By Pete Nielson
Food and Wine Editor
The sloppy joe always reminds me of summertime and being a kid. I just can’t explain it; I love sloppy joes. They are messy, covered in sauce and potato chips and cheese. It’s the great Midwestern love affair. The recipe that I have created was inspired by a mock duck sloppy joe I had at the Red Raven Espresso Parlor. I was happy to see a new take on one of my favorite quick meals and quite honestly, I hadn’t thought of using mock duck to make a sloppy Joes. I enjoyed the RR version, but I thought that it could use a kick in the recipe so I made my version.
Mock duck, if you have not had it or seen it, is a gluten-based meat substitute. It gets a distinct flavor from being stewed in soy sauce, and it even comes with a plucked texture to give it that duck meat look. The first purchase of mock duck, I found that it comes in a can similar to spam; I was expecting a condensed thanksgiving cranberry sauce-like form when I opened it. The mock duck was not condensed to the shape of the can but actually looked very similar to chunks of duck meat.
Sloppy joes are a free-form art. You can use any number of spice packs or canned mixes or even create your own. I started with one onion, three cloves of garlic, one can of mock duck (purchased from the Asian American store on Main Ave), a trusted bottle of sweet bbq sauce and added spices to my flavor palate. I have long enjoyed the use of curry powders in bbq sauce, so in it went. I also like a bit of heat so an addition of a little chili powder, paprika and of course Sriracha was added.
Sauté the mock duck, onions and garlic as if they were hamburger. Mock duck has a great texture, so it won’t crumble like tofu does when sautéed or stir-fried. I found that dicing the mock duck beforehand works great, or you can use a hand blender to really get that sloppy joe consistency. After the mock duck and onions and garlic have cooked for about five to seven minutes, add dry spices to bloom them. This gives the spices a chance to become more aromatic and work into the sauce quicker. Cook for another two minutes, making sure not burn the dry spices. The sweet bbq sauce is next. I added the whole bottle and about a half a bottle of water, just to rinse out the inside. Sriracha is not a must-have unless you want some heat. Add the hot sauce as you see fit, but don’t over-power the other spices. Once all of the ingredients have been incorporated, let it simmer for 20 minutes on low or until it is to the thickness that you desire. Serve on open-face toasted onion buns with cheese and plenty of chips to scoop up the messy goodness that may escape the bun.
1 can Mock Duck
½ large red onion small dice
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bottle sweet bbq sauce
½ bottle of water to rinse bbq sauce
4 Tbls yellow curry powder
2 Tbls chili powder
2 Tbls paprika
Sriracha to taste
The recipe is a general amount for all spices. This is where experimentation comes in. If you want a sure thing you can use any of the canned sloppy joe mixes; they will work just fine.
Eat well; your body will appreciate it.
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