Sloppy Joe meatballs

Sloppy joe meatballs

Sloppy Joe meatballs

A sloppy joe immediately conjures up images of a cheap lunch bar in 1930s America. And that, in fact, is exactly where it originated, as an early form of fast food for workers grabbing a quick lunch break, cheaply. But there’s nothing cheap about the taste of this little number.

Serves 4

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  • 250g lean steak mince
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 200ml beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 pack of flat leaf parsley
  • 4 white finger rolls


Chop the onion, crush the garlic, and dice the carrots and celery. Create the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions for 5 minutes until softened.

Remove half the onion and save for later.

Add the carrots, celery, and garlic to the saucepan and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato purée, and dried mixed herbs. Stir until well combined and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs:

Pre-heat the grill to medium high.

Lightly beat the egg. Chop the parsley, reserving a few leaves to garnish.

Put the saved cooked onions in a large bowl together with the mince, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, and half the parsley. Mix together well.

Using your hands (see Tips below), divide the meat mixture into 12 equal portions and shape each into mini meatballs.

Put the meatballs on a lined baking tray and grill them for 10-15 minutes, turning half-way so the meat is cooked through and showing no signs of pink.

Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce in the saucepan.

Add the rest of the chopped parsley and stir the meatballs and parsley into the sauce.

Serve the meatballs and sauce in the white finger rolls with a sprinkling of the extra parsley leaves reserved earlier.


When making the meatballs, it’s a good idea to use disposable plastic gloves.


A sloppy joe describes a particular type of filling for a sandwich or a bread roll consisting of minced (ground beef) and basically the ingredients listed above. The original recipe is thought to have been created by a chef called Joe at a café in Sioux City, Iowa, around 1930, and described as a “loose meat sandwich”. By the 1940s, Americans were using the term “sloppy joe” to refer to any kind of cheap restaurant or lunch bar serving fast, cheap food, in much the same way that the term “a greasy spoon” is used of similar establishments in Britain. The sloppy joe recipe started to appear in mid-20th century American cookery books under various names, such as Toasted Deviled Hamburgers, Chopped Meat Sandwiches, Hamburg a la Creole, Beef Mironton, or Minced Beef Spanish Style. By the 1960s, food companies such as Manwich had started producing them commercially as a package.

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