I have a lot of “favorite” days of the year — Christmas Eve, the day we turn the clocks forward in the spring, the Saturday before Memorial Day. But if I had to pick my favorite favorite day, I think it would be today. The third Thursday in March. The official kickoff of March Madness and the beginning of a four-day weekend in which 48 games are played and the field of 64 is whittled down to 16. I just love it.
I knew a guy in college who loved baseball so much that he always — always, from kindergarten on — played hooky on opening day. I haven’t quite gotten to a point in life where I can take the whole NCAA tourney off work, but that is definitely the dream some day. Maybe next year!
This crazy twist on sloppy joes is great game-watching food — it smells great while it simmers, it can be quickly scooped up during timeouts, and it’s solid and satisfying. I was a little thrown off by the raisins in there, but I decided to be brave and use them…which was a really good call. Have you ever toasted raisins in oil before? They puff up! It’s kindof cool. Don’t omit the raisins or pistachios in this; they taste great!
SLOPPY BOMBAY JOES (slightly adapted from Food Network)
Ingredients for the sauce:
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced (save other half for turkey)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp paprika
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
Ingredients for the turkey:
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
Small handful shelled pistachios, about 1/4 cup
Small handful raisins, about 1/4 cup
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact (chopped if you like things spicy, intact if you don’t)
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup half-and-half
handful chopped fresh cilantro
4-6 hamburger buns
1. To make the sauce, heat 2 tsp vegetable oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add ginger, garlic, and 1/2 minced serrano pepper. Saute until ginger and garlic brown a little. Add garam masala and paprika and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce and water. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, while you prepare turkey.
2. To make the turkey, warm 1 tbsp vegetable oil in large skillet. When shimmering, add pistachios and raisins. Cook until raisins swell up and pistachios toast slightly. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Return skillet to medium heat, add remaining tbsp vegetable oil, and warm until shimmering. Add onions, bell pepper, and cumin; saute until softened and starting to brown. Add serrano pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes, seasoning with salt. Stir in turkey and brown until opaque, about 5 minutes.
4. Pour sauce into skillet with turkey. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes. Once turkey has cooked and sauce has thickened a little, remove serrano pepper (unless you chopped it up for spiciness). Add honey, half-and-half, pistachios, and raisins. Stir through and taste for seasoning. Garnish with cilantro and serve on toasted buns.
Deeeelicious! I was nervous about the raisins and pistachios, so I didn’t use quite the full amount, but I definitely will next time (and may even increase them!). This is such a fun weeknight dinner!