CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Sloppy Joes

It’s nice to have a go-to dish, one that you’ve fixed many, many times and probably could make in your sleep, especially if you’re hosting a family get-together or a party for a group of which you are a member.

I have one. It’s sloppy Joes, or barbecues as we like to call them at our house. Actually, that’s what I’ve been calling them ever since my grade-school days.

You see, the recipe that I use came from my late Auntie Helen Tiedeman, who was the head cook for the students at the old Cathedral High School and Grade School back in the 1950s into the 1970s in my hometown of Crookston, Minn.

We used to have barbecues — and oven-roasted potatoes that were seasoned with parsley — at least once every week or two for hot lunch. The barbecues were one of the favorites of most kids. Some of my friends still talk about the barbecues they were that good!

I’ve passed the barbecues recipe on to many of them over the years since the school closed and Auntie Helen retired, and none have been disappointed.

I recently made a batch of the barbecues for Therese, who was hosting her doll club’s monthly meeting at our house. Needless to say, the barbecues were a hit. None of the half-dozen to a dozen guests left hungry.

And luckily for us, the pot I put together would have served about 25, so we had leftovers the next day, along with some oven-roasted potatoes with my own special seasonings.

Thanks, Auntie Helen!

Auntie Helen’s Barbecues
6 pounds of ground beef
1 package flaked onions
25 ounce-can cream of mushroom soup
½ gallon of ketchup
1 stalk of celery, diced, precooked
2 tablespoons mustard
¼ cup of vinegar
Barbecue spice, to taste
½ cup of brown sugar
Brown ground beef and drain fat. Mix all of ingredients in large pot and cook for about 2 hours.
Yield: Serves 50.
Note: Recipe easily can be doubled, or cut in half, like I did for the doll club meeting.

Oven-Roasted Potatoes
4 large red potatoes, cut up into quarters or eighths or sliced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon roasted garlic salt
1 teaspoon dill weed (optional)
2 tablespoons parsley (optional)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the butter and olive oil in large bowl. Add the potatoes and season with the salt, pepper and herbs. Mix well.
Place potatoes on one or two greased (with vegetable spray) cookie sheets and put in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are brown and crispy, occasionally turning the potatoes so they don’t stick to the bottom. Serve with barbecues or Sloppy Joes.
Note: You can substitute garlic powder for the salt if you are on a reduced-sodium diet.

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