By Jennifer Fisher, TheFitFork.com
There is a lot to love about March. The arrival of sunshine in the sky and swimsuits at Target, the madness of basketball championships and drinking green St. Patrick’s day beer, and (in Austin) letting your freak fly at the Zilker Kite Festival or partying at SXSW Music Festival with a gazillion of your best friends. March is also the host month to an eclectic array of food holidays that are just too weird and delicious to pass up. Losing an hour to Day Light Savings Time in March means I’ve had to double up on a couple of these excuses to pig out, so I will be celebrating National Sloppy Joe Day (March 18th) and International Waffle Day (March 25th) in tandem. I’ve made a specially-created recipe for Southwestern Sloppy Joes on Green Chile Cornbread Waffles just for the occasion!
You may be waffling on the idea of sloppy Joes for dinner –don’t be! This unique and easy dinner recipe will totally erase any bad memory of sub-par sloppy Joes that went down in the elementary school cafeteria. First of all, the waffle serves as an edible platter with nooks and crannies to catch all the juicy beef topping. Unlike the traditional enriched, white bread hamburger bun the sloppy Joe is soggily sandwiched between, this open-faced waffle made with cornmeal and cheese creates a crunchier surface that is impervious to the mush factor. Oh, and you’ll love how the addition of green chiles brings a wild yet mild twang to your taste buds. Even though these are savory waffles, I think the leftovers would be delicious served with butter, honey and bacon for breakfast- just saying.
The sloppy Joe topping is a southwestern-inspired concoction of lean ground beef, corn, black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes and taco seasoning – super tasty, but nothing too fancy-schmancy. I used a seasoning packet along with canned and frozen veggies to keep it convenient for chaotic weeknight dinners. Top the waffle with a big scoop of the beef and then other fixings like crumbled queso fresco, avocado slices, cilantro and salsa. The Waffle House ain’t got nothing on this!
Like most, my version of the sloppy Joe uses ground beef. I prefer to use ground sirloin, because grinds made from cuts of sirloin are typically the leanest. However, please use a grind that suits your personal preference. One thing I hear over and over is how confusing it is to pick out ground beef on the meat aisle – it is packaged and labeled so many ways.
This confusion is why I’m giving y’all a quick Ground Beef 101. At the consumer level, the four major varieties of ground beef (aka hamburger meat) in order of leanness are Ground Sirloin, Ground Round, Ground Chuck and regular Ground Beef. These are “source” grinds (with the exception of “regular” ground beef) that come from the cuts of beef described in the name and this origin is what plays the biggest role in each grind’s taste, texture and leanness. For example, the lean-to-fat ratio is usually 90/10%, for ground sirloin, 85/15% for ground round and 80/20% for ground chuck – however, these can vary within each variety. For example, you will often see 93/7% and 96/4% grinds as lean offerings. Although it has a bit more fat with lean-to-fat ratios in the 70/30% range, there is nothing wrong with “regular” ground beef. “Regular” ground beef is taken from a variety of cuts, not just exclusively sirloin, chuck or round and this makes it more economical. If you’d like your beef leaner, you can always put cooked regular ground beef crumbles in a colander and rinse away fat residue gently with warm water.
There are a few other essentials to know about ground beef. Always cook ground beef (whether burgers, crumbles or meatloaf) to 165 F degrees internal temperature for food safety reasons. Also, raw ground beef has a shorter window for use than most beef cuts due to the nature of the grinding process, Keep uncooked ground beef in the refrigerator for up to two days or in air-tight bags in the freezer for three to four months. Always thaw in the refrigerator, not on the counter. If you have questions about grass-fed, grain-finished, grass-finished, natural and certified organic, visit Facts about Beef.
- For Sloppy Joe Topping:
1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1½ lbs. ground beef
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1.25-oz packet low sodium taco seasoning
- For Waffles:
- 1½ cup milk
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1¼ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ⅓ cup crumbed queso fresco cheese
- 2 (4-oz) cans diced green chiles, drained
- Garnish: avocado slices, cilantro leaves, crumbled queso fresco, salsa
- Add olive oil to large skillet, bring to medium high heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or beginning to turn translucent. Add beef to skillet and cook, breaking up into crumbles, until completely done through. Drain any excess fat.
- Lower heat to medium low and add corn, black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, water and taco seasoning to skillet; stir to combine. Simmer over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Turn off heat and cover with lid to keep warm while waffles are being made.
- To make waffles, add milk and vinegar to large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, whisk in egg and oil.
- In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients including flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, garlic powder and salt.
- Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients a bit at a time. To finish batter, gently stir in crumbled cheese and green chiles.
- Make waffles using ⅔ cup batter according to waffle iron manufacturer’s directions. Makes about 6 large waffles.
- So serve, place ⅙ beef mixture over top of each waffle and garnish with avocado slices, crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and salsa, if desired.