Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Barbecue Hamburgers (aka Sloppy Joes)

Don't you love it when a sound or smell or taste takes you back to a specific place and time?  This is one of those recipes.  When I was a kid, my grandmother used to participate in the Utah Shakespeare Festival and I loved the end of the season because she would always make and bottle her own yeast-fermented root beer a few weeks before, and on the last day she would make a huge batch of her "barbecue hamburgers". 
(Everything with my grandma sounded a lot more glamorous than it really was.  Kind of like when I'd stay at her house and she would wake me up at 5:30 to go to the church house and "stretch" with her and her friends.  "Stretching" was this super intense old lady aerobics.  As a fat kid, I didn't appreciate her trying to trick me like that.  Back to these burgers though). 
Barbecue hamburgers was her fancy way of saying "sloppy joes".  Either way, these are a crowd pleaser and every time I make them I'm transported to Cedar City in the mid-'80s, helping my grandma load all those bottles of homemade root beer into the back of her Caddy.

The recipe says this makes enough for 12-15 people, but that's a lie. This is the exact amout that feeds my family of 7, with no left overs.

Recipe altered slightly from my grandma, LaVeve Whetten

2 lbs ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 tbsp vinegar (I've used both white and cider vinegar in this and both are just fine)
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder

Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and ground beef and cook until the meat is browned.  Mix remaining ingredients and pour over the meat and onions.  Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Served over warmed hamburger buns (we do some condiments like cheese, lettuce, pickles tomato, etc).  This could easily be made ahead, stored in the fridge in an airtight container, then heated in a stock pot before serving.

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