Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Cobbler

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Cobbler
Fancy enough for your Super Bowl party, easy enough for weeknight dinner

Seasoned, saucy, and tomato-fueled, Sloppy Joes are ground beef fun on a bun.

But we like to play with our food, so we couldn’t resist a few tweaks. The result is a Tex-Mex casserole version that adds spicy flavor and a presentation twist.  

Kids will love these. But maybe have Margaritas on hand for the grownups in the room.

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Cobbler
Recipe: Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Cobbler

The original Sloppy Joe is a mix of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce (and/or ketchup), usually combined with green bell pepper and seasonings (often including Worcestershire sauce). This savory, sweetish mix is served on a hamburger bun (toasted or not – your preference).

Our recipe contains many elements of the original. But because we’ve turned this into cobbler, we replace the hamburger bun with a topping of cornmeal drop biscuits. (We usually associate cobblers with desserts, but there’s no reason they can’t be savory too).

We also replace the green bell pepper with a green Mexican-style chile pepper (mild or medium hot; we favor poblano, but Anaheim works too – or whatever else you favor). And we add seasonings appropriate to a Tex-Mex dish (chile powder, cumin, ground coriander).

Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. Then you’ll need 15 to 20 minutes of stovetop time as you sauté the onions and brown the ground beef. Finally, add 10 to 12 minutes of oven time so the biscuit topping can bake. So figure maybe 45 minutes start to finish.

This recipe yields 4 to 6 servings. It’s easy to double if you’re serving a crowd (see Notes).

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 mild or medium green Mexican-style chile (like poblano), cleaned and finely diced 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (optional)
  • salt to taste (we start with ½ teaspoon kosher salt, then add more as we proceed; see Notes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 1½ pounds lean ground beef (we prefer 90% lean for this dish; see Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon mild or medium chile powder (for mild, we prefer ancho; for medium, a New Mexican one)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder (to taste; optional)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 batch Cornmeal Drop Biscuits
  • ~1 tablespoon brown sugar (very optional; see Notes)
  • garnish of grated cheddar cheese (optional; see Notes)

Procedure 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  2. Place a large, ovenproof frying pan over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the cooking oil. When the oil has heated (about 15 seconds; it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onion and chile pepper(s). Season to taste with salt, then sauté until the onion is just translucent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Then push the onion/pepper/garlic mixture to the sides of the pan and add the ground beef. Salt the beef to taste (we use about 1 teaspoon kosher salt) and cook until the beef is thoroughly brown (about 5 minutes).
  4. Spoon off the excess grease if you wish (if your beef is 90% lean, there won’t be much). Add the chile powder(s), cumin, coriander, and oregano, then mix them in completely. Add the crushed tomato and mix again. Simmer until the flavors are thoroughly combined (10 to 15 minutes) and the sauce is thick (because this is a cobbler, you don’t want the sauce to be thin and runny).
  5. While you’re simmering the beef mixture, mix the cornmeal drop biscuits.
  6. After the meat mixture has cooked for 10 to 15 minutes, taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you prefer a sweeter dish (we don’t, but see Notes), add brown sugar to taste.
  7. Turn off the stovetop heat. Drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough over the top of the meat mixture (we like to use rather large “biscuits” for this dish, but make them any size you fancy). Pop the frying pan into the oven, then bake until the biscuits are golden and done (10 to 12 minutes).
  8. Remove the pan from the oven. Dish up and garnish (if you wish) with grated cheddar

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Cobbler
Notes

  • You don’t really need garnish for this dish, but shredded cheddar cheese adds flavor and color. We also like to garnish with diced onion and/or slices of jalapeño pepper.
  • For this dish, we like to use ground beef that is 90% lean because it makes for less excessive grease (so there’s less to spoon off).
  • Our instructions call for sautéing the onion and browning the beef in the same pan. But if we’re in a hurry, we’ll cook the onion in the frying pan that’s headed for the oven, while browning the beef in another frying pan. Then, when the beef is done, we add it to the onion. That cuts about 5 minutes off the cooking time – but you’ll have another pan to wash.
  • If you’re doubling or tripling this recipe, we suggest using a casserole dish that measures about 9” x 13”. Cook the meat mixture on top of the stove, then scrape it into the casserole dish. Top with biscuit dough and bake in the oven until done.
  • If there are only 2 of you, you might want to bake only half the recipe and save the rest for later. When we made this recipe, we placed about half the meat mixture into a small frying pan (the 7½” one that appears in the photos), then covered it with half the biscuit dough and baked. We froze the rest of the meat and biscuit dough for another meal.
  • Traditional Sloppy Joes are on the sweet side. If you want that flavor profile, add the optional brown sugar. We prefer this dish without, but you may disagree.
  • You could probably substitute Mexican chorizo for ground beef (in that case, we’d skip the cumin, coriander, and oregano). 
  • We like to use cornmeal drop biscuits for this dish because corn and Tex-Mex just go together. 
  • But you can use any biscuit dough you like. You could even opt for those tubes of biscuit dough you find in the dairy case at the grocery store – not as good as homemade biscuits, but not bad. And easy to use.
  • We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Cobbler
For Kids of All Ages

“Neat twist on a classic,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Despite being sloppy.”

“Glad I cobbled this together!” I said.

“That joke needed a bit longer in the oven,” said Mrs K R. “It’s half baked.”

“Appropriately juvenile, though,” I said. “Especially since Sloppy Joes were my favorite on the lunchroom menu when I was a kid.”

“When you were a kid?” said Mrs K R. “Did that era ever end?”

“At least I’ve moved past the food-fight stage,” I said.

“Good thing I have, too,” said Mrs K R. “Otherwise, things could get messy when I have a beef with your humor.”

Yeah, my jokes might get a chile reception. 

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74 comments:

  1. This sounds like a delicious cool weather dinner! I think I could even ketofy it very easily. Thanks so much!

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    1. Hi Anne, it would be easy to do a keto version of this. Enjoy! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. It looks delicious! I think I will whip up a batch of my homemade cheddar biscuits to top it when I make it. The end of your posts are always the best! :)

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    1. Hi Martha, cheddar biscuits would be great! In fact, I almost made some for this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. This looks great John, such comfort food.

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    1. Hi Gerlinde, it really is comfort food! Thanks for the comment.

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  4. Good ole fashioned comfort food! This would make anyone happy.

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    1. Hi Pat and Dahn, sure made us happy. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. My husband loves sloppy joe and the cobbler and you have just combined them perfectly in one dish, John. Definitely something I can surprise him :-)

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    1. Hi Angie, your husband will thank you. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. What a great recipe John! It's been years since I've had a sloppy joe and I just love the way your incorporated it into a "dish". Love those cornmeal drop biscuits and a great use for them on top of this casserole.

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    1. Hi MJ, we hadn't had Sloppy Joes for ages before we made this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. What a terrific idea! It looks delicious.

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    1. Hi Pam, this is really a fun -- and delish! -- dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. What a fun twist on the sloppy joes of my childhood. Your homemade version with the cornmeal drop biscuit topping sold me!

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    1. Hi Liz, this really is fun, isn't it? We enjoyed coming up with this post. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Sounds like a perfect use for Ro-Tel -- would save some time dicing peppers if you felt lazy or hurried. We are buying much less meat than we used to (thanks to the pandemic and other reasons), so this wouldn't be for us.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Mae, Ro-Tel definitely is a good possibility. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. *huge smile* Reading this recipe I know I am' in the US of A !! All three terms 'Tex Mex', 'Sloppy Joe' and 'Cobbler' are 'strange' Down Under !!! But beef mince dishes served similarly can be found under a multitude of guises right around the world, in my birth country simply being called 'mince sauce' . . so it will be hugely interesting to try your version - thanks !

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    1. Hi Eha, this is basically a meat pie -- which I know you're quite familiar with Down Under. :-) The chile peppers might be a bet difficult for you to source, though. Thanks for the comment.

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  11. We probably eat sloppy joes at least once a month...but never with a biscuit topping. This will soon change!

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    1. Hi Abbe, we like them much better with a biscuit topping than with a hamburger bun. But then, most things are better with biscuits! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  12. This is a brilliant idea the cornmeal dumplings are a welcome addition instead of a bread burger. Accompanied by a margerita is another sensational idea, great flavours thanks John.

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    1. Hi Merryn, this is terrific with a Margarita! Ask us how we know. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. I love this recipe. It is always fun to play with food and come up with new recipes. This recipe is perfect for young and old.

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    1. Hi Dawn, isn't this neat? We really like the concept of this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I love this time of year when all the Super Bowl recipes start popping up!

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    1. Hi Debra, we do too! And we don't even watch football! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Genius. Now all the "slop" gets contained in a dish. GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, slop is good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. This sounds so incredibly good, John! You're right about traditional sloppy joes being too sweet—happy to skip the brown sugar on this. Thanks for a great recipe.

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    1. Hi Terry, we liked the sweetness when we were kids. Now? No thanks. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. I grew up in Houston where sloppy joe's and frito pie were school lunch favorites! Love the addition of the corn drop biscuits. Way better than a sandwich bun!

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    1. Hi Laura, the biscuits are a huge improvement. Huge. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. This is fun! For those days you want a sloppy joe but don't have any buns! I love the sub of spicier peppers--I keep poblanos in the freezer in case a chili rellano craving hits!

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    1. Hi Inger, we love spicy stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. I love this take on the old sloppy Joe! I completely forgotten about them until you posted this. My mother used to make them for us all the time when we were kids. I think I would definitely use the Mexican chorizo, especially as I make my own at home. Can’t wait to give this a try!

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    1. Hi David, we almost used chorizo in this, but decided to go for the more classic ground beef flavor. Next time we will. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. i always used to wonder what a sloppy joe was. i think i only found out a few years ago. this looks comforting.

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    1. Hi Sherry, Sloppy Joes really are comfort food. And pretty good, too! Thanks for the comment.

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  21. Such a clever idea and perfect comfort food for the Super Bowl.

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    1. Hi Judee, fun dish, huh? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Sloppy Joes were a staple at lunch during my school days, but this recipe really ups the ante! Love the drop biscuits, what a great idea.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hi Evas, biscuits of any kind are always a great idea. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Oh yum! This looks absolutely delicious and a super good family dinner!

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    1. Hi Amy, families everywhere are eagerly awaiting this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. That is a nice comfort dish, That looks great John

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    1. Hi Raymund, pure comfort. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. Totally making this for super bowl!! I love this fun twist!

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    1. Hi Ashley, bet you'll love it! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  26. What a fantastic recipe! Adding a tossed green salad to this will make for a very enjoyable meal on Game day.

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    1. Hi Balvinder, don't forget dessert. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Looks good enough to eat! I must give it a try.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, definitely good enough to eat! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  28. Hi John,
    I mentioned your blog and your cocktail recipe archive, and even stole one of your photos today.
    https://maefood.blogspot.com/2022/02/limes-in-news-and-in-your-drink.html

    Have a good Sunday!

    best... mae

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    1. Hi Mae, aw, thanks for the link love! I'll check it out. :-)

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  29. Gee, I haven't had Sloppy Joes since I was a kid. This sounds like a great way to mix things up.

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    1. Hi Frank, it had been a LONG time since we had them, too. We need them more often -- they can be a rather good dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  30. WOW. This one really turns my head, John. I love Sloppy Joes, first of all. My mom used to make them all the time when I was a kid, and I never make them (for no good reason, because I do love them), so this is sending cravings right to my brain stem. I love the biscuit idea so much more than a bun! I can't wait to try this.

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    1. Hi Jeff, biscuits are always better than buns! And yeah, you do need to try this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. I'd be that person spooning up the entire biscuit top to enjoy. Is that wrong? I think not. ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, definitely not wrong! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  32. I love the sound of a Sloppy Joe, very comforting like a warm jumper. I wish I could buy your cornmeal drop biscuits, are they slightly sweet?I thought they would be savoury, but when you said to use any biscuit recipe I wondered. I also wonder if a savoury scone mixture would work as well. Great idea. Thanks so much.

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    1. Hi Pauline, I should have said any savoury biscuit recipe! These are more like savory scones than cookies (what you call biscuits), so your savoury scone mix would work quite well. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. I am a huge fan of savoury pies, crumbles, and cobblers, so this is definitely right up my alley. It looks terrific and great flavour profile!

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    1. Hi Ben, this has terrific flavor! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. That is such a fun idea. We love to play with our food too. Making it as a casserole has all kinds of added benefits like melting your cheese on top while it is in the oven. Hope you are staying warm and well.

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    1. Hi Bobbi, we almost did melt cheese on top for the pictures. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  35. LOVE the twists! While the Super Bowl has passed, I'll take a serving of this any day! :-) ~Valentina

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    1. Hi Valentina, we'll take a serving of this any ole time, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  36. Love this idea. Checks all the boxes---easy, one pan, comforting, delicious!

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    1. Hi Debra, definitely checks all the boxes! Plus it looks nice. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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