Sloppy joes are an American classic food that has come to be known as a quick meal from a can. The original, homemade sloppy joes are made from ketchup, chopped vegetables and spices. Some spices are less common in sloppy joes, depending on your preference, such as dry mustard, marjoram, oregano and paprika. Other ingredients such as sugar and vinegar are often added, and salt and pepper are usually added to taste.
Use dried, minced garlic and garlic powder to get the best combination of flavor and texture. Minced garlic adds a little garlic flavor, but mostly texture and the visible presence of garlic in the sloppy joe sauce. Allow the dried minced garlic to cook in the ketchup sauce for at least 10 minutes to allow it to rehydrate and give off flavor before adding the garlic powder. The garlic powder adds intense garlic flavor, so add it a little at a time, tasting as you add it until you reach the desired garlic flavor for your sloppy joes.
Add dried minced onion, onion powder or fresh minced onion to the ketchup sauce with the garlic so that they can both cook with the sauce for the longest time. Similar to the garlic, add the minced onion first, allowing it to cook with the sauce and rehydrate before adding onion powder. Add onion powder to the sauce, tasting as you go. Sloppy joes should have a fairly strong onion flavor, but the best thing about making it yourself is that you can season it according to your preference. Fresh onion can replace both minced and powder onion, but may need to simmer with the sauce for longer to develop the desired flavor.
Celery seed is a strong tasting celery spice that should be used in moderation. Celery seed will give the sloppy joes a fresh flavor. Add a small pinch of celery seed to the sloppy Joe sauce and allow it to cook for about five minutes before adding more. The flavors of the dried spice will develop slowly as it cooks, and because celery seed is such a strong flavor, it is hard to cover up. It is therefore important to add a small amount at a time to result in the best tasting sloppy joes.
It is often thought that chili powder is a spicy spice. However, that is not the case. It does have mild heat, but in general, chili powder is mild and more flavorful than it is spicy. Chili powder not only adds flavor and mild spice to sloppy Joes, but it also adds texture and color. Start by adding a tablespoon of chili powder per 2 cups of ketchup sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer for about five minutes to hydrate the chili powder. The chili powder will add dark red color, and make the sauce a little grainy and slightly thicker. Taste the sauce before adding more.
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