Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spicy Chorizo Sloppy Joes

One of my favourite shows the past season was Top Chef Canada on Food Network.  I was particularly intrigued by the show since it is hosted by Mark McEwan, who owns ByMark - one of my absolute favourites in Toronto - and had many of the Food Network Canada's present and past "star chefs" on it like Lynn Crawford (Justin's idol), Michael Smith (The Inn Chef and Chef at Large/Home), Rob Feenie (the first Canadian to beat Morimoto on Iron Chef America), and of course Susur Lee.

And then three of the contestants are chefs in restaurants I frequent regularly in Toronto - Rob Rossi from Mercatto (ok...he has resigned now and is getting ready to announce a new venture shortly), Andrea Nicholson from Great Cooks on Eight, and Steve Gonzales from Origin.  All in all, a great "recipe" (guffaw!!! knee slap!!) for a great show for Sandra.

I loved the episode that ran on June 21st called Surf or Turf (should be..."or be be turfed" guffaw again!!!!).  One of the biggest jokes in Toronto is our concept of "street food". Reality is we don't have any except hot dog carts because of permitting issues with the City.  Ok...there are a few french fry trucks, but it is nothing like it is in the U.S.  We don't really have pop-up restaurants and we don't have food trucks that serve cupcakes, tacos, roti or anything like that - well not any more. this multi-cultural mecca we suck when it comes to street food.

This fact has come to light lately here thanks to the City trashing its "Toronto A La Cart" pilot project.  The City issued permits to a number of food vendors, mandating that they must buy mandated $30,000 carts, and then they regulated the vendors to death over 3 years mandating their locations, approving just goes on and on.  And now these people have wasted 3 years of their lives and a lot of money on a failed program.  Smells like class action to me.

Hopefully that is about to change thanks to Suresh Doss from Spotlight Toronto.  Quite by chance, we had the pleasure of having lunch with Suresh last April at Reif Estates Winery.  Very interesting fellow and the leader in a charge to organize the food truck movement in Toronto this summer.  A first attempt to bring in food trucks from surrounding cities attracted over 3,000 eager and hungry Torontonians on the July long weekend.  There is a second gathering scheduled for August 20th in the Distillery District so we definitely have plans to attend.  And eat!!!

Anyway, that was a long lead up to me saying that on June 21st, Food Network had the remaining chefs create and sell street food from a "non-compliant" looking street cart at City Hall.  The winning dishes were served by Rob Rossi, including his take Sloppy Joes with a Spanish-Canadian bent fusion.  His other dish was a Seranno Ham and Canadian Cheddar cheese sandwich with Smoked Tomato Ketchup.  More yum.

I decided this dish needed to be made to take to my friend’s annual Lane Party and that this might be a potential cottage or camping dish in the future. Yummy. 

But I kind of forgot to print off the recipe, so I made it as much as could from memory, and the taste is incredible.  I used two different kinds of chorizo (dried and fresh) and then instead of the beef Rob’s recipe called for I ended up with lamb, after the lady at the meat counter gave me the wrong thing.  Sometimes mistakes work out really well, so this is my rendition of Rob’s Chorizo Sloppy Joes. 

You can vary the heat in this recipe depending on the sausages you buy.  Turns out the dried ones I got at Sausage King in the St. Lawrence Market were scorchers!  I didn’t need to add any chili flakes, but you could if you wanted.

Spicy Chorizo Sloppy Joes

1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons bittersweet smoked paprika
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
4 fresh chorizo sausages
2 dried or cured chorizo sausages
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground lamb or beef
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 jar passata (pureed tomatoes)
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar


20 small small soft dinner rolls or sausage slider buns
2 cups Manchego Cheese, grated or 1 recipe Queso Fresco
2 green onions, thinly sliced on an angle


Place dried chorizo sausage in the bowl of a food process, and pulse until ground.

Heat a medium non-stick saucepan over medium heat.  Remove fresh sausage from casings and crumble into the pan.  Add ground pork and lamb/beef and combine.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until starting to brown.
(Note:  If the mix seems a bit coarse, you can pulse it in a food processor for a few turns so you get a better texture in your Joe.)

Add onions and dried chorizo.  Combine well and cook a bit longer, about 4-5 minutes, until the fat has rendered.  Remove any excess fat from the pan.

Add garlic, bay leaves, smoked paprika and cumin. Add tomato paste, tomato purée and sugar, and combine  Cover and cook on low for approximately 30 minutes, skimming fat occasionally if needed.   If sauce seems a bit dry, add a bit of more water,

Serve warm. Spoon Chorizo Sloppy Joe in mini sausage buns and garnish with Queso Fresco or Manchego Cheese, and green onions.

Inspired by Rob Rossi on Food Network’s Top Chef


  1. Excellent Sandra, thanks for leaving some leftovers in our fridge. having them tomorrow with the cheese !


  2. I like the sound of chorizo sloppy joes!

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