I had a lot of ideas of what to name this recipe. Sloppy Does. Smoky Joes. Smoky Sloppy Does. I ended up sticking to the classic instead of something cutesy. At any rate, here's my recipe for homemade sloppy joes. I did use my whitetail doe but any red meat will work. Once you make the homemade version, you'll never go back to the canned stuff! I don't think I can make it through this this post without a Billy Madison reference so let's just cut to the chase. "I made 'em extra sloppy for ya!"
I've seen a lot of sloppy joe recipes with added sugar in them and I don't really think it's necessary. I do use ketchup in mine, so I'm not denying that there's sugar in this recipe. But instead of adding extra sugar, I focus on developing more savory flavors. My favorite parts about this recipe are the tanginess and the hint of smoke. It's a pretty simple recipe to make, but it definitely benefits from some low and slow simmering to really develop the flavor. Can you guess what I cooked them in? Yeah, of course I used my beloved dutch oven. But, this is the perfect recipe to double or triple and freeze the extras. Just thaw and heat for a fast weeknight meal!
Why are sandwiches so hard to take pictures of? I mean, I really struggled with this one, you guys. Not my best work picture-wise but the recipe is still really good, promise! I added some pickles and sliced red onion for a little extra zing and crunch. Toppings are totally optional, make them how you like! I highly recommend some of these tater chips on the side though.
Smoky Venison Sloppy Joe Recipe
- 1 lb ground venison
- 2 tbsp lard, oil, or butter
- 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 3 tbsp mustard (any type but I use dijon)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp hot sauce (optional)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- 4 hamburger buns
- sliced red onion, for serving (optional)
- pickle slices, for serving (optional)
- Heat lard in large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground meat and cook until meat starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add in chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and stir until meat is well-coated. Add in diced onions, pepper, and garlic. Cook until meat is fully browned and vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes.
- While meat is cooking, mix together ketchup, mustard, tomato paste, hot sauce, vinegar, worcestershire, and liquid smoke. Add sauce to pan and stir until combined.
- Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low. Mostly cover pot with lid, allowing for a small vent hole. Cook for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Add in water a couple tablespoons at a time if mixture starts to dry out.
- Toast hamburger buns. Serve warm sloppy joe sauce on buns with sliced red onion and pickle slices, if desired.
- Make a double (or more) batch of the recipe. Cool the sauce and add half to a quart-size zippered bag. Freeze flat on a sheet pan. Thaw under refrigeration and reheat on the stove or in the microwave when ready to use.