Sloppy Joes

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Notes My husband is frequently asked, "What's your absolutely favorite meal at home?" Most people are quite surprised by his answer, which is always the same: "Lauren's Sloppy Joes." This combination of ground meat simmered in an intensely flavored sauce, served atop toasted, homemade hamburger buns seems to send my husband back to his childhood. (Of course the sauce we all had back then was from a can, the buns were always store bought and the eating place was usually the school cafeteria.) Since this sauce freezes so perfectly, I recommend that you make a large batch and freeze it in separate small containers. Then on nights when you're exhausted, simply purchase some fresh ground beef and go to your freezer for the sauce. Within minutes, you'll have a delicious, quick and truly comforting meal. Also, don't hesitate to use ground turkey in place of beef. It's one way to make something lower in fat when no one knows the difference!
10-inch nonreactive deep-sided skillet


2 cups Sloppy Joe Sauce (following)

2 generous pounds freshly ground beef (chuck, round, sirloin or a combination) or ground veal and/or turkey

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 to 8 hamburger buns, preferably homemade [see below]

Butter or margarine, for buns

1) Sloppy Joe Sauce: Prepare as directed in following recipe, measure out 2 cups and freeze the rest.

2) To brown around meat: Heat a 10-inch nonreactive deep-sided skillet over medium heat. When hot, add ground meat and break up with a wooden spatula. Cook meat until separated and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Then remove from heat and drain out any excess fat from skillet. Return skillet to low heat, add sauce and stir to incorporate. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered until the flavors mingle and the mixture is piping hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Add some more freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

3) To assemble Sloppy Joes and serve: While sauce is simmering, split hamburger buns, spread lightly with butter or margarine and toast the cut and buttered sides only. Spoon ground beef mixture over buns and serve hot.

Hamburger Buns from Challah Dough
Prepare challah dough as directed through 2 risings. Line 2 shallow baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle paper with cornmeal. Turn out fully risen dough onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly and gently. Using the blade of your pastry scraper, divide dough into 10 equal pieces.
Work with 1 piece of dough at a time, covering remaining pieces with a towel. Shape each piece of dough into a round. Then pull up the sides of the round, pinching at the top of the dough ball. (The round should be taut and perfectly smooth on all sides except at the pinched top.) Turn ball on its side and drive the blade of your pastry scraper down through the waist of the ball (not through the pinched end), cutting the ball in half. Lay both halves (cut side up) and gently open them to lay flat. Sandwich both cut sides together and pinch around the circumference of the circle of dough to seal. Flatten the circle gently, but firmly and use your fingers to shove the pinched seam gently under the bun as you flatten. Lay buns (smoothest side up) on the prepared baking sheets and cover them with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Let rise for 30 minutes, starting after the last bun has been shaped.
If a topping is desired, follow directions for a soft crust with a topping (following). Bake as directed in Braided Challah recipe, but reduce baking time to 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on wire racks and store in a large heavy-duty plastic bag. To freeze buns, place in a doubled heavy-duty freezer bag. To serve, remove outer bag and thaw buns in the remaining sealed bag at room temperature. Refresh in a warm oven or split and toast cut sides before serving. (braided challah)
For a soft crust with a topping: Omit egg glaze and as soon as the last loaf or bun is shaped, brush the tops with 1 room temperature egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water. Sprinkle on one or more of the suggested toppings for Braided Challah. Cover with a towel and rise as directed. Brush fully risen loaves or buns just before and immediately after baking with melted butter (over the seeds). This topping is best suited for loaves baked in loaf pans or for hamburger buns.

serves 6 to 8

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