July 11th, 2013
The picture above not fitting your image of a sloppy joe sandwich? Then you must be from somewhere other than my home state, New Jersey. There, a sloppy joe is a far cry from ground meat doused in red sauce. Rather, it’s a cold, double decker deli sandwich made with meat, cheese, slaw and russian dressing. Lots of it. Lots of all of it. And perfect for a summer picnic.
Of all the classic Jersey foods, including disco fries (french fries topped with melted cheese and brown gravy) and taylor ham (sliced pork roll), the north Jersey sloppy joe is my favorite. And I’m not the only one. It’s not uncommon to find people arguing over which deli makes the best joe. Serious Eats even got in the action!
Though I have a preferred spot, I’m going to stay out of the fray and make my own sloppy joes at home. It’ll at least save me a drive. Same goes for you, well, unless you live in Millburn, NJ. Ahem.
When I make sloppy joes, I skip the third layer of bread. (The blasphemy!) I also use cole slaw from a great local deli, but you can use homemade. Just stick with the old fashioned kind made with mayo. If you’re going to put your energy into making some part of this sandwich from scratch, I recommend that you roast a turkey breast and slice it up. Deli turkey will do, of course, but real deal semi-thick cut roast turkey breast is best. I also think that homemade Russian dressing is worth it. It’s incredibly easy to make and so much better than the stuff you’ll buy in the jar.
If you’re taking this sammy on the road or eating al fresco, be sure to pack it in a cooler to keep the cheese and mayo from spoiling in the summer heat.
NJ-Style Turkey Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
(Can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
Sliced rye bread, seeded or not, your preference
Sliced roast turkey
Sliced Swiss cheese
Old fashioned cole slaw
1. For the classic layered version, toast 3 slices of rye bread per sandwich. For a more modest version, toast 2 slices per sammy.
2. Layer turkey, cheese, slaw and top with russian dressing. If making the layered version, put turkey between two slices and cheese and slaw between the other two. Spread both the top and middle slices of bread with dressing. Cut into 2 or 3 pieces and enjoy!
*Note: While this contains nothing unsafe for younger eaters, I recommend this starting at 12 months because, well, it’s a serious sandwich! No matter how old your eaters, be sure to keep the size manageable: skip the double-decker version, layer the fillings thin, and cut the sandwich into small pieces easy for small hand to maneuver.