Sloppy Joes fall into the same category of food nostalgia for me as s’mores: loved them as a kid, and appreciate the concept in general, but now find the original versions so cloying as to be (almost) inedible. Following is my correction to the usual oversweet, sticky Sloppy Joe, no ketchup needed. To my adult palate it tastes exactly as I remember it tasting as a kid—and my daughter probably has no idea that this messy sandwich she likes so much is usually a whole lot sweeter.
In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. When it shimmers, add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until no pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off excess liquid, then dump the beef into the slow cooker. Stir in the bell pepper, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion powder, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar,
Toast the buns in a toaster or on a baking sheet under the broiler. Season the beef with more salt, pepper, and brown sugar, if needed, then serve on the buns.
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