Kaltenbach Farm’s Zesty Sloppy Joes

There are times when I look through my recipe box & feel a little guilt. My head’s so wrapped around whole grains, vegetables and healthy stuff that these old recipes seem, well, old-fashioned. But
these Zesty Sloppy Joes are so good – and so perfect for a crowd it might be time to resurrect them. Think game day, a child’s birthday or any event with a crowd, year round, when you don’t want to man the grill. And just for today, let it go…

Kaltenbach Farms Zesty Sloppy Joes
Kaltenbach Farms Zesty Sloppy Joes

In the 90’s, I had a big old cookbook that was a compilation of recipes from Bed & Breakfasts around the United States, and these Sloppy Joes came from the Kaltenbach Farm B & B in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. My thanks go out to them, because “healthy” or not, my family has enjoyed these Zesty Sloppy Joes for decades. I always make these for Christmas eve, following a tradition (but not the recipe) my Mother started. We, of course, being from Iowa always call these “Maid Rites.” Mom made hers with Gumbo soup. 🙂

I admit to tinkering – doubling the vegetables, adding carrots & sometimes using combination of turkey & beef. Now and then, I’ll cut back on the meat and toss in a little cooked quinoa about halfway through the cooking process. I often use less sugar than called for – the grated carrot melts in to the dish and adds its own sweetness. Don’t tinker with the ground mustard – it’s what makes this recipe. And the soup? Strange, but it really is better with than without.

There’s one other change I made to the recipe, which is admittedly bizarre. I “ripped it off” from the classic Bolognese. When nearly done, I add about a half cup of milk, stir it in and let the Sloppy Joes reduce down a few more minutes. You’ll have to trust me, but it’s magic. No one will guess why your Sloppy Joes are the best in the world, although this is optional.

The recipe can be cut in half, but why not do what I call “a double down” and serve half and stash the rest in the freezer for another time? Unless. of course, you’re serving a crowd. Serve on buns (I often cut “dinner” rolls in half rather than using hamburger buns and make sliders – they’re so fun) with dill pickles. Cole-slaw is the classic accompaniment.

I think you’ll find pricing (about $12.70 for this large amount) comes out pretty well per meal or per serving. For a gathering, compared to something like a hamburger, especially the cheap, yet somehow expensive (per pound) pre-made ones, the pricing looks even better  – and your guests will likely appreciate a great Sloppy Joe over a crappy burger! The Walmart special: 4 ounce burger for 70 cents. Sloppy Joes, 50 cents a serving with careful shopping.

Try using a scoop as the serving implement and you’ll find everyone will automatically have to portion and there’ll be far less mess.

Kaltebach Farm's Sloppy Joes

  • Servings: 20 - 25
  • Time: 1 hr 20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 pounds ground beef or turkey (or combination)
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 2 green peppers, minced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce 
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk, optional

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain thoroughly.

Return ground beef to pan, add green pepper and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover, leaving lid slightly ajar and simmer very slowly for one hour, stirring occasionally, especially towards the end. Sloppy Joes are finished when this becomes one cohesive mixture with no juices separating out. 

If desired, when finished, add 1/2 cup of milk and slowly reduce until the mixture is finished, again.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve on buns with dill pickles.

from the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com, adapted from Kaltenbach Farms

 Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read Strategies Applied additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

 Put Your own Spin on it:

  • Feel free to omit milk.
  • Adjust spices and seasoning to your taste.
  • Up the heat level if serving adults. More chili powder, a bit of cayenne, perhaps some hot sauce or jalapeno juice. Hot peppers may be added with the Bell Peppers.
  • If you’re adventurous, a glug or two of beer gives an interesting flavor.

Nutritional Information:

Sloppy Joe, only, per serving, based on 25, made with ground beef:

cal 187; tot fat 10g; sat fat 6g; chol 64mg; sod 357mg; pot 219mg; carb 12g; fib 1g; sug 9g; prot 16g; vit A 28%; vit C 19%; calc 4%; iron 11%

Just for fun, nutritional information on a premade beef patty:

cal 209; tot fat 14g; sat fat 5.1g; chol 73mg; sod 71 mg; pot 284mg; carb 0g; fib 0g; sug 0g; prot 20g; vit A 0%; vit C 0%; calc 2%; iron 12%

Kitchen & Cooking Hacks:

Did you know a potato masher makes short work of breaking down hamburger or ground beef as it fries? It also mashes Avocado perfectly for Guacamole. Breaks down apples for applesauce or other chunky fruit. Makes excellent crash potatoes, too.

Scoops perfectly portion – which really helps when you have those in your family that just go crazy on stuff.

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2 thoughts on “Kaltenbach Farm’s Zesty Sloppy Joes”

  1. I often think about the health factor on “heritage recipes” (love the term!) I know a lot of them don’t meet the current standard of healthy, but I also think that the act of cooking puts you way ahead of pre-packaged or restaurant foods. Plus, with all of the veggies in this, it looks like a great way to sneak in extra veg.

    1. Those are really good points. It’s all relative, isn’t it? Another plus of eating at home is that you have total control over what goes with it, while it you have something like this at a restaurant or diner, you just know it will be half a plate of fries or chips!

      To tell ya the truth, when I eat out it’s hard NOT to get the fries or chips (and a pop) even when there ARE other options!

      I think of these as *stealth* veggies – if they’re chopped up fine they just melt in and no one knows they’re there!

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