Before M and I got married, my cousin (who was also my maid of honor) and my parents threw M and I a pre-wedding picnic in my hometown. Since we would be getting married on the other side of the country, it was a lovely way for M to meet some of my extended family and friends that wouldn’t be able to travel to Albuquerque for our wedding. A lot of thought was put into the picnic, and one of my favorite touches was the recipe box that we were given. Everyone was sent a couple of recipe cards in their shower invitation and was instructed to share their favorite family recipes at the shower. The box was set out on the table with our gifts, and when the guests arrived they filed their family recipes away in the box. The result is a collection of favorites from the important people in my life. I love sitting down with a cup of tea and thumbing through the cards. Some people wrote notes or favorite memories on the back while others provided only the measurements and method. My favorites (and most-used) are all tucked in no particular order in the front of the box. It’s funny how I know which ones to find there, and which ones are filed away properly.
One of the recipes that makes an appearance a few times once Springtime arrives is my mom’s BBQ Beef recipe. The first time I made it for M, he was really disappointed. In his mind, BBQ Beef is a big roast that is slow-cooked with barbecue sauce and then shredded, while our family recipe calls for ground hamburger meat. He liked the result, it just wasn’t what he was expecting. Since marriage is about compromise, we’ve decided that although the recipe is called BBQ Beef, in our home we refer to it as Sloppy Joe. It goes without saying that I made some adjustments according to our tastes. Mom uses green peppers, I use red. She adds bacon and a little bit of water, I don’t. Regardless of whose recipe is used, the result is delicious and is always given the thumbs-up by our picnic guests.
2 pounds ground beef (try to get organic or naturally raised if it’s within your shopping budget)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
10 ounces ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar (I usually use apple cider vinegar for this)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small crumbles. When the meat is cooked through, drain most of the fat from the pan and discard. (I leave a teaspoon or so to help the veggies along.) Add the chopped onions and bell peppers to the pan and allow to cook until they start to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. When the mixture comes up to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and cover. Simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop before serving over your favorite type of bun.
If you’re looking for some tasty side dishes to accompany this dish, check out this post for some great suggestions.