I was hustling though the grocery store yesterday after work, picking up a handful of things to tide my wife and son over while I was in the city playing softball with the greatest fucking team in the world, The Dirty Dogs (respect).
Moving quickly though the produce and bakery departments I skidded into the aisle where they stock tomato sauce on two wheels -- passing cans of beans and chili in a flash only to nearly roll over a middle aged gentleman who stood in front of a recently faced stack of Manwich with a can in his hand and a pensive look on his face.
As I glided by on my way to the pasta sauce at the end of the aisle, I watched him gingerly place the can back on the shelf and step back. There was no lateral movement, as if he decided to move on another option for tonight's dinner. He just stood there looking at the shelf.
I remember thinking as I passed...Sloppy Joes. Nice. Open face on buttered and toasted hamburger rolls, or better yet Texas toast. Seriously, once its on your mind, its hard to deny yourself a Sloppy Joe, and as I moved to the shelves of tomato sauce I made a mental note to slip this treat into a future weekly menu for dinner, albeit a homemade version as its just so easy to make.
My eyes were shifting quickly from one jar to another, looking for something organic, on sale and complementary to the goat cheese my wife likes to mix her sauce with when I'm not around. I happened to look to my right just in time to see the same guy, standing there with that can of Manwich in his hand, pondering it before putting it right back on the shelf. Same pained look on his face, same few steps back from the shelf.
Selecting a jar of pasta sauce and placing it in my cart I made my way back up the aisle and as I got close to this guy I hear him say to nobody in particular:
"Fuck it. I'm going for it."
Then he threw the can into his basket and walked off. I shit you not.
I can only wonder what was going on in this guys mind, but I've come to one of two conclusions.
1) This guy knew deep down that Manwich from a can is probably not very good for you.
2) This guy was questioning his ability to make Manwich from a can.
Either way kind sir, I'm paying tribute to your meal by placing this basic recipe out into the ether that is the Internet so others do not have to go though the same mental anguish that you did. To start lets look at the basic ingredients to a can of Original Manwich:
Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Less than 2% of: Salt, Sugar, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Peppers, Chile Pepper, Tomato Fiber, Spices, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dehydrated Garlic, Carob Bean Gum, Natural Flavors.
Kinda creepy right?
Ok, here is your shopping list, you can eyeball the amounts for the most part because hell, you are making Sloppy Joe sauce.
Olive Oil, Tomato Paste, Tomato Sauce, Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, Beef Stock, Beer, Onions, Peppers, Garlic, Chili Powder, Salt, Pepper.
The process assumes you have a few things:
A heat source like a stove, wood fire or the engine block of a recently running car. A pot that is not made of aluminum. A knife. A large spoon. Nice to haves would include an indoor kitchen and maybe a cutting board.
Simply you want to chop up your veggies -- you can keep saying "Sloppy Joes" while you chop to remind yourself that a perfect dice is not needed. Just chop till they look good to you. Now place them in a pot with some oil and salt and put the spurs (heat) to them. Add the tomato paste, maybe 2 or 3 spoons worth. Pour in a can of tomato sauce. Pour in your beef stock. Pour in a beer (make it domestic and light - and have one for yourself while you are at it). A few spoon fulls of the brown sugar. Splash some Worcestershire sauce in there. More salt. Pepper. Add your spices - if you like it hot, add more chili powder or better yet some hot sauce. Reduce it till it starts to get thick.
Step back and look at that shit, you've essentially made Manwich.
Now brown some meat off, pour your sauce on top and tell the kiddos to buckle the fuck up cause they are having Sloppy Joe's for dinner.