Sloppy Toms

1 1/2 lb ground turkey thighs
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup turkey or chicken stock
1/4 cup bourbon
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

In a large saucepan, saute the garlic, onion and carrot in olive oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and saute until brown, stirring to break up the meat. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, until thickened. Serve on buns. I like mine with a bit of sharp cheddar grated on top.

Yield: about 6 servings

My thoughts:

Something about early fall always makes me think about the food I ate as a kid. Maybe it is the whole “back to school” thing despite not having children or taking a class since I finished my MA. Anyway! Sloppy joes were a fixture of my childhood dinners though we made them with beef and sauce from a jar. I’ve made a couple of other versions over the years (coinciding with my once a year yen for them) that better reflects my tastes. This time I made them with ground turkey thighs which are lighter than beef but more flavorful than ground breast. I also snuck in some shredded carrots for some texture variation, natural sweetness and a little added nutrition. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make the sandwich taste “carrot-y”.


  1. This looks exactly like what I want to make, minus the bourbon…..any suggestions what i could substitute?

  2. Just replace it with extra stock.