This recipe is a bit of a Frankenstein. Gather 'round and I'll tell you its tale! Shortly after getting married, I bought some hamburger buns, a packet of seasonings, and made Sloppy Joes. My husband politely told me that although Sloppy Joes are okay, if we are having beef on a hamburger bun, he would just prefer that we have cheeseburgers. So I consented to not making Sloppy Joes anymore. I like them, but I could live without them.
Then about a year ago, I found a recipe for Sloppy Joe cornbread bake. This recipe for a Sloppy Joe base topped with cornbread seemed to solve my dilemma. I could have the goodness of Sloppy Joe, but it wasn't on a bun, so it wasn't competing with cheeseburgers for my husband's affection. Before I had a chance to make it, I saw a recipe for Sloppy Joes that included a can of beans. I am always trying to get more beans in my diet, and this sounded like a great way to do so.
So I combined those two ideas and added beans to the Sloppy Joe cornbread bake. I made it a few times using a packet of Sloppy Joe seasonings, and I never had any complaints. I was satisfied with my Sloppy Joe situation. Then I found a recipe for reduced fat Sloppy Joes in Cook's Country that was made from scratch. This kept getting better and better! So I combined the three recipes together into one reduced fat Sloppy Joe cornbread bake. It's alive!
This is now officially how Sloppy Joes are made in my house. The homemade Sloppy Joe filling is tangy with a nice tomato flavor. I was worried about my husband noticing the eggplant that took the place of some of the meat and refusing to eat it. He did notice, but kept right on eating it. Success! The beans fit right in the mix as well, and add a nice boost of fiber. For the topping, the original cornbread bake recipe called for using a cornbread mix, but I have always just used my own recipe for low fat cornbread and it always works out great.
Using eggplant for some of the meat, and making the Sloppy Joe part of this recipe from scratch takes a little more time, but I think it is totally worth it. And you could always make up the Sloppy Joe part of it the night before, quickly whip up some cornbread batter, and throw it all together when you want it.
To make this yummy, reduced fat, husband approved meal, start by sauteing some sliced eggplant. I think this is so clever! I swear you can't taste it in the final product!
When the eggplant is lightly browned, throw it in the food processor to grind it up. If you have picky eaters, you are more likely to get away with your trickery be grinding it up pretty fine!
Then cook your eggplant and an onion together. The onion adds flavor to the dish, and acts as another veggie filler.
Add some chili powder and cook another 30 seconds. This brings out the flavor of the chili powder.
Then put in your Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and water. Simmer it all together for about 15 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
Cook the beef in a small skillet and drain (especially if not using lean ground beef!). Add the cooked and drained beef and pork and beans to the eggplant mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. I never thought I would buy pork and beans, but they come with their own sauce, and the kind that I bought have nearly identical nutrition stats as a can of regular cooked pinto beans. Just go for it!
Then make your cornbread topping. Remember that making cornbread from scratch is super easy! Check out my post on low fat cornbread if you want more info! When you have both layers ready, spread the Sloppy Joe mixture in a greased 8x8-inch baking dish...
...and top it with the cornbread batter.
Pop it in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the cornbread is cooked through. Then dive in!
I love that this dish is healthy, hearty, and delicious! I always have to sneak an extra bite after I put it on my plate! So make some soon!
Reduced Fat Sloppy Joe Cornbread Bake
For the Sloppy Joe mixture:
2 tsp olive oil
8 oz eggplant (about 1/2 large eggplant), sliced thin
1 medium onion, minced
1 1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
8 oz 93% lean ground beef
1 can pork and beans
salt and pepper to taste
For the cornbread topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp Splenda
1 tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup margarine, melted
For the Sloppy Joe mixture: Heat 1 tsp olive oil of medium-high heat in large skillet. Add eggplant and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to food processor and pulse until finely ground.
Heat remaining oil in empty skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and processed eggplant, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, sugar, vinegar, and water. Simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are completely tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
Cook beef in small skillet and drain (especially if not using lean ground beef). Add beef and pork and beans to eggplant mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the cornbread topping: Sift dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together egg and milk; stir into dry ingredients just until melted. Add melted shortening.
To assemble: Spray an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Spread Sloppy Joe mixture evenly into pan. Top evenly with cornbread batter.
Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes, until cornbread is cooked through.
Recipe adapted from Con Agra Foods and Cook's Country