Proper Josephs with Ale & Brown Sugar

We are adults.  It's a new year, a clean slate, and we should try to resist eating popcorn and cereal for dinner for at least a couple more weeks.  With a whole year in front of us, there is no better time to begin arming ourselves with solid, dependable, realistic weeknight dinners. 

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

I know it looks like all I do is take pictures of cookies and drink tea beside the Christmas tree.  But sadly and probably thankfully, we do not eat Lobster Macaroni & Cheese for dinner every night. Sometimes, I just need to use up my leftover ground beef. 

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

That whole "necessity is the mother of invention" thing ain't no lie.


I heated some oil in the frying pan, tossed in some garlic, and browned the beef.  

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

My grievance with sloppy joes has always been related to the sweetness factor.  In my mind, this humble, homey classic requires some degree of brown-sugary sweetness, but at times it goes a bit too far.  

I still like my dinner to maintain its savory integrity.  Oh, and do not even get me started on the whole bell pepper thing.  No, just no.

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

I wanted these sloppy joes to strike the perfect balance between sweet and savory, and It turns out that a leftover bottle of ale was just the ticket.  

The ale brings a welcome depth of flavor and unmistakable yeasty tang to this sloppy joe filling.

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

After the first bite I knew the remnants of my refrigerator had inspired something truly special. Something that had far too much sophistication of flavor to be called "sloppy." 

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

While these are not exactly the most elegant of sandwiches, Mr. Pedantic & I both agreed that in the world of sloppy joes, these were the Hapsburgs.  Hence the updated, and more deserving title - Proper Josephs.  

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

The ingredients are far from fussy, save the indulgent brioche buns, but the final reward is a true delight. 

Proper Josephs {Pedantic Foodie}

Go ahead, put a little faux-fancy in your week. 


Pedantic Foodie

Proper Josephs

serves 2 (or 4 smaller sandwiches) 

- 1 tablespoon olive oil

- 1 large clove garlic 

- 1/2 lb ground beef (I used 80/20)

- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

- 1 bay leaf 

- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 

- 8 ounces tomato sauce

- 1/4 cup amber ale 

- 2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar 

- 2 brioche buns 

- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a medium, nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it just begins to brown.  

Add your ground beef and use a spatula to break up the meat, then add the salt and bay leaf and cook until the meat is evenly browned.   

Once the meat has browned, add ale and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Reduce heat slightly and add Worcestershire and tomato sauces.  

Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.  Stir in 2 tablespoons brown sugar, then taste and add an additional tablespoon if needed.  Whether or not this is necessary will greatly depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes. 

Remove the pan from the heat source and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the buns. 

Set your oven to the broiler setting and slice buns lengthwise.  Spread 1/2 tablespoon butter on each side of each bun and place on a set pan, cut-side up.  Place in the oven and toast until golden. 

Serve immediately.  Enjoy!