Sandwiches, Finger Food, Appetizers · Special Occasion · Uncategorized · What's for Dinner? · What's for Lunch?

Family Day Recipes Continued

Family Days were always a fun event at my parents house, and always revolved around the food. Carrying on the family tradition, I will not disappoint for this combination Family Day/Super Bowl Sunday event.

🙂 Some of the grand-kids at my parents for a family occasion. Circa 1995.

I don’t know about you, but if my mom wanted to feed a crowd easily, it usually involved sandwiches. Whether they were hot or cold, they were always a crowd pleaser. Sloppy Joe’s has always been one of our family favorites. It’s fairly easy and can sit on top of the stove for however long, and people can help themselves as often as they want.  I think this is the perfect thing to make today. Of course, staying in true “Ruth” fashion, it is going to have to be a spectacular version of the old time favorite. Trust me, just because a recipe can be easy, my mom never made it taste that way. It always ended up in some “gourmet” form of the traditional.  So, I decide that I am going to make it a healthier version and use turkey, and keeping it right in line with the football theme, I am going to make my sloppy Joe’s with a buffalo, blue cheese, sauce.  So just like my mom, I’m going to “amp” it up.

This recipe is super easy, but you will have to be somewhat creative because so much depends on personal preference, but, you will get the gist of it and be able to adapt.

I first start with browning the meat. I have two 3 lb packages of lean ground turkey. Even though it is 93/7, meat to fat ratio, I am still going to de-fat it. So in my big chef pan (or skillet) brown your meat. I did not use all 6 pounds, I ended up using about 4 1/2 – 5 pounds. After it was browned I strained all the fat and liquid out and I put the browned meat in my big dutch oven.

In the same pan, I crisp up about 6 ounces of diced bacon. Then with a slotted spoon I remove it and add it to the turkey. I want to give it some smokey flavor. You can use more, less, or none at all, according to your personal preference. I then remove most of the bacon fat, but reserve enough for my vegetables. Into the bacon fat goes a large onion diced, and plenty of chopped celery, mostly the heart and including some of those pungent leaves. I also add 4 large cloves of garlic finely minced. I add 1 tsp. of salt and several grinds of black pepper. (*Note -Reduce the salt amount accordingly if you are reducing the quantity of the recipe). When those become translucent and soft, I deglaze the pan with some red wine, around a cup or so. I let that simmer and cook off the alcohol, then toss it into the meat mixture.

Saute the onions, celery, and garlic in the reserve bacon fat and deglaze the pan with red wine.

Next I dice one whole green pepper and throw that in, as well as a good helping of chopped flat leaf parsley. I add about another 2 1/2 tsp. of salt and more black pepper. Usually you use about 1 tsp. of salt per pound of meat, but remember, there is salty bacon, I will be adding some bottled products, the salty blue cheese, and I already salted the vegetables. I can always add more seasoning if needed later on.

Next I add close to 1/2 of a bottle of hot sauce, like Frank’s. OK. I used Frank’s. 🙂 You don’t want to completely submerge the meat in the sauce, but add enough to make it the consistency of a thick stew.

Now it’s starting to come together.


Next I add about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of ketchup. I use the Heinz organic, but I don’t think the brand matters. This thickens it and adds sweetness. I add about 1/4 c of raw apple cider vinegar, a couple TBs of Dijon mustard,  and a good palm full of brown sugar.

Next comes the spices. Just to add a little more smokiness, I add a 1 tsp. or more of smoked paprika, and 1 tsp or more of chipotle chili powder.

I let that simmer away and reduce. I continue to taste along the way and add any extra seasonings I think it needs.


Starting to thicken up. Just let it simmer away, the liquid will reduce.

When the mixture is nice and thick, add the blue cheese.

I added 1/2 of this package, so around 2 oz or so. you can add more, less, or none at all, according to your personal taste. This was just the right amount. You could taste the blue cheese without it being overwhelming. Of course we are all blue cheese freaks in this house, so the flavor was welcoming and mild.

I served it with assorted rolls that I purchased, unlike my mother. She would have made the rolls. I have still not mastered her recipe for homemade rolls, but watch for it in the future. Enjoy!

Recipe recap:

Ground lean turkey 93/7

Bacon – diced

Diced onion

Chopped celery

Diced green pepper

Minced garlic

Chopped parsley

Red wine

Frank’s hot sauce


Brown sugar

Dijon mustard

Apple cider vinegar

Smoked paprika

Chipotle chile pepper powder



Brown the ground turkey, breaking it up with your spoon or spatula to create a crumbly consistency. Drain the fat and juices and put the browned meat in a big dutch oven or other appropriate pot. Brown and crisp the bacon. Remove the cooked bacon from the fat with a slotted spoon, and add to the turkey meat. Reserve enough bacon fat to saute the vegetables. Add diced onion, celery, and garlic to the pan. Add some salt and some ground pepper to the vegetables. When they become translucent and soft, add the wine. Cook the wine to remove the alcohol, then add to the turkey mixture. Add the diced pepper, the parsley, and a little more salt and pepper. Add the hot sauce, ketchup, vinegar, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, the smoked paprika, and the chipotle powder. Let it simmer and cook down reducing the liquid. Taste for additional seasoning. Add the blue cheese crumbled, stir into mixture as it melts. Serve on whatever your heart’s desire.



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