Smokin’ Sloppy Joe Sliders–Simple Super Bowl Party Entertaining

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This recipe has its genesis in my Mom’s Sloppy Joes. Over the years I’ve added a number of ingredients–most notably my “secret ingredient” black coffee after reading in a western novel that chuck wagon cooks often added that ingredient to stews and chilis to give a more “robust” flavor base!

I have learned to really love spice and flavor over my years in the military as well as the balance of palate that a creamy dairy counterpoint brings to a dish in tempering the heat of peppers! Heat without flavor is a “bite” that I avoid! I’m just not one to eat food that “hurts me!”

Back in the day, this little Dakota girl came to understand that at least one of those pockets in military fatigues was designed to and almost certainly held a bottle of hot sauce! I did not imbibe–if powdered eggs sucked I was of the mind set that no amount of hot sauce (or nose holding) would correct their aberration of what that Mama Chicken put forth as an egg for our forage!

Imagine the rejoicing (during deployment) when some sage decided to include a tiny bottle of “Tabasco” brand hot sauce in our MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) in the field! (I have kept one that is in a shadow box in the back hallway in tongue-in-cheek memory of the wholesale craziness that I witnessed during a deployment when it was discovered in packet by my hot sauce loving’ compatriots!)

This one has lots of ingredients, I know, but I guarantee that the final sandwich is worth the extra time and complexity! This is one that improves with a day or two in the fridge making leftovers even better than the original!

A real waterside, game day and crockpot star! I hope that you taste the “love” as my son, Justin, always says!


Ground Beef:

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped sweet onion (2 medium)
¼ cup minced fresh garlic (1 whole head)
2# Ground chuck
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
1 Tablespoon chili powder (I use “Spice Islands” brand only)

1-10 ¾ oz. can condensed tomato soup (I use “Campbell’s brand)
1-6 oz. can tomato paste (I use only “Hunt’s” brand tomato products)
1 t. kosher salt
1-1 oz. package of French Dip Au Jus Mix (I use “Pioneer Brand”)
1 T. brown deli mustard (I use Grey Poupon)
1 T. steak sauce (I use “Heinz 57” brand)
¼ cup black coffee
1-12 oz. beer (Your favorite—I like a dark beer)

2 or 3 dozen slider rolls, halved
Sweet & spicy pickle chips (I love “Famous Dave’s” brand)
Chipotle cheddar or other good quality cheddar, sliced
Ranch dressing mix—prepared (Please don’t skimp here—buy the “Hidden Valley” buttermilk recipe mix and make the dressing. It’s an amazing difference!)
Buttermilk (Fat free will result in a very thin sauce but your call)
Mayonnaise (I use “Duke’s” brand or “Hellmann’s”)

In a large, heavy pot (large cast iron skillet or dutch oven works great) on medium heat, saute’ chopped onion until just transparent—three to four minutes. Add minced fresh garlic and cook until tender—two to three minutes. Crumble ground chuck into onions and garlic and add salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic salt and chili powder. Using a large cooking spoon, chop the ground chuck until brown and until cooked through—drain.

(It’s at this point that you can continue to cook in the same pot used to browned the chuck or transfer browned chuck mixture to a crockpot, add sauce ingredients and finish cooking).

Add tomato soup, tomato paste, salt, au jus mix, deli mustard, steak sauce, black coffee and beer to cooked ground chuck and stir until well mixed. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally and uncovered until a rich, browned chili consistency.

Lightly brush slider roll halves with olive oil and toast until browned and crispy on a griddle over medium heat.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the prepared Smokin’ Sloppy Joe onto the bottom half of a toasted slider roll. Crisscross two slices of the chipotle cheddar, add a sweet and spicy pickle chip and drizzle with the ranch dressing. Pop on the top of the slider roll, cover chin and chest and prepare to devour!

I guarantee that there will be nothing left but a “smokin’” plate once family and friends get a taste of these!

Makes 2 dozen sliders with leftovers or up to 3 dozen for that playoff (or poolside) crowd!

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