What’s a Turkey Joe, you ask? Don’t be confused by the name of this recipe! Turkey Joe’s are my lightened up take on the good old-fashioned sloppy joe. I started calling them Turkey Joe’s the first time I made them because there’s something about the word “sloppy” I just don’t love and the name has stuck. They’re still a make-a-mess-of-yourself-when-you-eat-it kind of meal. Like, seriously, this is a two-handed sandwich and you’re going to need a stack of napkins ’cause you’re probably going to get sauce all over yourself…but who cares when something tastes so good, right?!
If the only sloppy joe’s you’ve eaten to date involve a package of ground beef and a can of sauce, be prepared for the best (and healthiest) joe of your life. No exaggeration!
So, the flavor here? Not something you can get out of a can. Fresh is always best (duh), not to mention cooking from scratch involves way, way less sodium than what you get from canned goods. Less sodium = less bloat and I think we can all agree that’s a good thing, especially with beach season right around the corner. Am I right, or am I right?
Anyway, back to that flavor! Tomato sauce, chili powder, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes come together to make a sauce that is part warm spicy chili/part sweet and tangy barbecue. And it’s easily customizable! Like things a little sweeter, tangier, spicier? Not a problem. Just tweak the ratio of seasonings to your liking. Taste and go, my friends. That’s how I roll.
We’ve also got to talk about the texture here. I mention texture A LOT when I talk about food because to me, the more texture a dish has, the more I seem to enjoy it. The filling for these Turkey Joe’s pack a serious protein punch with not one, but two excellent sources of lean protein. Obviously, there’s ground turkey, but there’s also a can of chickpeas involved! You partially mash the chickpeas before tossing them into the pot and I just love the added texture they bring to the mix. Plus, extra fiber! Win-win.
I recommend serving these on whole wheat or gluten-free hamburger buns and you absolutely must top them with the best and crunchiest dill pickle slices you can find. And this might sound weird, but I like mine drizzled with ranch dressing on top. I don’t even know where I came up with that topping combo, but seriously, so good. I’m thinking a tangy cabbage slaw would be excellent here, too, but it’s pickles all the way around here!
If you’re gluten-free or just trying to eat less bread, this filling works well spooned over a baked potato. Kind of like a chili-topped potato, except it’s a Turkey Joe topped potato…which just happens to be how I enjoy all the leftovers.
Bust out your favorite pot (oh, how I love those one-pot meals!) and add a green veggie or potato wedges or both on the side and dinner is good to go!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 15oz can tomato sauce
- 1-2 tbsp chili powder
- 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ cup water
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained & partially mashed
- pickles for topping, optional
- Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion & saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute.
- Add ground turkey and cook until no pink remains, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce, chili powder, brown sugar, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, water, and chickpeas, stirring to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Spoon filling onto hamburger buns and top with pickle slices or slaw.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light September 2015.