Friday, January 25, 2013

The Most Special Secret Ingredient

Big K's Sloppy Joes

from Missy Tippens

Missy, here. And I'm going to share a very special recipe that includes a secret ingredient. But first...let me back up just a bit...

My oldest son and his friends from the church youth group spent their high school years hanging out at his friend Kerri Ann's house. Hers was the house where everyone loved to gather on weekends and all summer long. And the parents (good friends of ours; the mom Alice works with my husband at the church) always fed them and loved on them like a second set of parents. Everyone calls her dad Big K (his name is Kerry), and they LOVE Big K's sloppy Joes.

Since my son loved those sloppy Joes so much, they always sent the leftovers home with him. So I got to enjoy them as well (within limits, since my eldest would threaten me not to eat more than one!). I have to say, there really is something special about Kerry's recipe!

I finally got the recipe (approximate amounts since he usually makes a huge batch and since I was getting this by phone from Alice) and made them last week. I'm going to share.

Big K's Sloppy Joe's

1/2 small onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
approx. 1/2 can evaporated milk
approx. 1/3 cup ketchup ("enough to get rid of the white look from the milk") :)

Cook onion in a little oil until transluscent. Add beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat. Add the evaporated milk ("pour in enough that it's milky colored but not too wet.")
Stir in the ketchup until you get rid of the whiteness.

I love recipes like those, almost like painting or doing some sort of craft. :)

Serve on very fresh, soft buns.

You may be thinking that the evaporated milk is the secret ingredient. It's certainly surprising, and is what makes these unique. But read on to find the secret...

So I made these for dinner last week. I was so excited to finally try this recipe. My kids were excited, too, since my two younger kids have also enjoyed Big K's famous sloppy Joes at youth suppers at the church. Yet, I have to admit they were skeptical that mine could possibly be as good as Big K's.

So we sat down at the table and had the big tasting. My middle child didn't look impressed. So I asked, "Don't they taste like Kerry's?"

He shrugs and says, "I think he puts good memories in his."


There you have it. The secret ingredient is GOOD MEMORIES. The fun times at Kerry and Alice's house or at the lake. The fun times at youth suppers, cookouts and retreats. The love that goes into each batch Kerry makes.

So what about you? What recipes do you have that include good memories?


  1. Hi Missy I have heard of sloppy Joes but still not sure how you eat them. I think your ground beef we call minced meat. we do have evaporated milk. and tomato sauce (thats what we call it). but how to you eat it? just put it on a plate? it seems quite plain to this aussie. its similar to a pasta sauce only missing a few veggies and a bit more liquid. which I then add pasta too.

    We had a lady move to this town a year or so before dad died and we sort of adopted her. She use to make russian toffee and I loved it so much. She would bring some when she visited and it still have wonderful memories. I cant make it even with the recipe (I cant even make toffee right). Another one is my friends mother she use to make Anzac cookies. (mum did too) but this ladies were so yummy and I loved being there when she had cooked some.

    1. Oh, Jenny Girl, you are missing teh BEST part! Take a hamburger bun (I prefer my toasted in the oven, but that's just me), then put lots of mayonnaise on your bun, then your sloppy Joe meat mixture on, then add a slice of cheese and more mayonnaise (lol), top with the other bun...then go get a fork! You'll probably need it.

      Sloppy Joe's are the poor man's answer to BBQ pulled pork/beef sandwiches.

      My MIL used to make "chip ups", Missy. Basically the same thing as homemade Sloppy Joes, but I don't know why they called them chip ups...Maybe because she chipped up the onions? Dunno...

      BUT I love your recipe and the two secret ingredients! Must try them. Yum!!!!

  2. Jenny, they're sandwiches. You pile up the meat on a nice, soft hamburger bun. We love to eat them with French fries or chips.

    I love toffee! But I've never tried making it. I think it probably requires a candy thermometer, which I've never tried using. :)

    1. Hi Missy, Do you warm the bun? It looks easy (if i take the onion out as I cant eat much of that).

      The russian toffee is made with condensed milk so not really a toffee. its abit like Scotish Tablet.
      really yummy but for me at present off the menu too rich for me. here is a link to it.

    2. Oh, Jenny.... I think I know what I'm cooking the next time I get a craving for sweets!

    3. Jenny, you can warm the bun but don't have to. Just make sure it's fresh and soft. :)

      Wow on the toffee!! That sounds a lot like fudge to me. YUM!

  3. Oooooh, a secret ingredient that no one else can duplicate! Now that's the sign of a good recipe :) It reminds me of my mother-in-law's turkey dressing recipe. I came close to duplicating it this year, but something is still missing.

    I love people like your friends - people who go out of their way to create a godly atmosphere for others to enjoy. My children have had the privilege of knowing people like that and I'm so thankful.

    I'm going to have to try this recipe - it's so different from mine! I would never have thought of using evaporated milk.

  4. Jan, we've been so blessed for our children to have wonderful friends who have wonderful families!

    Let me know if you try the recipe.

    1. P.S. I think one reason the kids like it so much is that it's not so tomatoey. :)

  5. Perfect for a day like today. I agree about the secret ingredient!

    1. Julie, yes, it would have been. I think today I'm making chili. This cold dreary weather is prefect for these warm beefy recipes.

  6. LOL, I guess there aren't any good memories at Missy's house. Obviously, I won't be trying Big K's Sloppy Joe's but I do have a vegetarian recipe using texturized vegetable protein (doesn't that sound yummy?) Only it has lots of veggies in it too and is made with canned tomatoes. I wonder what it would taste like if I tweaked it a bit and used your evaporated milk and ketchup instead? I might just give it a try.

    1. Kav, it'll probably be good! I've found the soy/vegetable crumbles do well in just about any beef recipe.

  7. Oh, Kav, mmm.... so tasty!!!!

    Missy, that's a hoot... The good memories.

    My guess is that The Big K's Sweet Wife left out the OTHER secret ingredient... Like seasonings.....

    Really, that's it? onion and ketchup and a dash of milk? That's like meatloaf without garlic or green pepper....

    This is a very interesting recipe, but I can see why kids would love it because Big K serves it with laughter, Little K is a cutie, they probably are hanging out, smelling it cook and therefore anticipation is a HUGE PART of the meal, and this recipe doesn't have "dots" in it... when my brats were little, anything they could SEE in a recipe was a "dot"... onion, garlic, celery, chunked tomato, etc.... Kids tend to like "smooth" when they're young. Missy, that's a story to use in a book. Totally charming.

    1. LOL, Ruthy! Well, I did add a little salt just by habit. I salt just about everything. :)

    2. Yep, on the dots, Ruthy. Kids wouldn't eat casseroles (which I LOVE, btw), or onions.

      I made a lot of vegetable soup when the kids were younger (because I LOVE soup) and my oldest was picky. He would just eat the tomato soup part and crackers, none of the veggies or the meat. Well, the younger wasn't as picky, but he mimicked his brother.

      Oldest is in the military now and will eat just about anything. Youngest is beginning to eat onions now.

      Funny, though, when youngest went to eat dinner with a (past) girlfriend, he told me everything they had at the meal and that he ATE... and it was stuff he'd NEVER eaten at home.

      Oh, and I found out this week that youngest likes cornbread with his soup. Who knew? Good grief, he's 20. Maybe shoulda mentioned it before now. I'm not a mind-reader.