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I love a sloppy joe (or two). As a kid, my mom's sloppy joes were heavily requested for my birthday dinners. I would squish the bun down, letting the ground beef mixture tumble out. It was a delicious mess. Recently, someone pointed out to me that sloppy joes are nothing more than poor man's barbecue—a quick version of ground beef mixed with tomato sauce opposed to cuts of meat smoked slow and steady before being coated with barbecue sauce.
I am not sure I agree with this idea.
To me, sloppy joes are an entity all of their own. But thinking of them as a poor man's barbecue did inspire a new thought to sloppy joe tinkering. What about using barbecue sauce in place of or in addition to tomato sauce? And couldn't the crunch of a slaw enhance a sloppy joe in the same way that I like to pile it on my pulled pork sandwich?
With these thoughts in mind, I came up with a recipe using barbecue sauce and a spicy carrot-jalapeño slaw to top it off. It's a barbecue-inspired sloppy joe, the best of both worlds.