Chow Town

Meet the original Sloppy Giuseppe

Have I told you the story about my cousin, Sloppy Giuseppe? Sit down, my friends, you’re going to love this tale.

Growing up in an Italian household, most of my summers were spent in Sicily with family and friends. Most days were just spent hanging around my family’s coffee shop and traveling to the beach. It was all very memorable and some of the best times of my life.

You have heard me talk about my cousin Reno before, but I have not mentioned my cousin Giuseppe.

Giuseppe was kind of the renegade in the family, the Sicilian cousin who was always out late at night and played hard. He always hung around with some of the most beautiful girls, and I swear I can still see that smile on his face when he would walk in my uncle’s home at 7 a.m., laughing like he didn’t have a care in the world. His mother would just shake her head.

I have to be honest with you, Giuseppe was unlike the rest of my family. Like I said, he was a little wild, but he did not have the mannerisms like most of the Mirabiles.

When Giuseppe sat down to dinner, he immediately grabbed a fork and tore into his pasta, or whatever else my aunt had cooked, like an animal. When he ate a steak or piece of sausage, I would actually feel sorry for the piece of meat because of the way Giuseppe attacked it. I wish I had a video camera back then so I could have recorded it all.

I would ask my Papa about Giuseppe and why he was a little different. He would just tell me that “he was a cowboy.” A cowboy? I still to this day have no idea what he meant, but I think what he was telling me was that he was not like the rest of the family. A little different, you might say!

Giuseppe was also unlike a lot of Mirabiles because he really wasn’t a great cook. He knew how to work his family’s coffee machine, he made the family’s treasured lemon granita and he could probably make a pasta dish or two, but that was where his gastronomy ended.

All except for his famous sandwich, which I love to eat still today.

Giuseppe’s sandwich would consist of ground beef, onions, tomatoes and spices. It was like a loose-meat sandwich, or what we call today a Sloppy Joe. Giuseppe would prepare his sandwich and put it on a very crispy bun. It was sloppy as hell but tasted like heaven. Whenever it was Giuseppe’s turn to cook for the family, he would make this sandwich for everyone to enjoy. Hey, a few glasses of Sicilian Nero d’Avila and a nice sandwich —

Live la dolce vita

!

If you’re feeling lazy one of these hot summer days, pick up a few of these easy ingredients at your local store, and you, too, can prepare my cousin’s famous dish.

I do hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years. I still make it for my family during the summer, and everyone loves it, and the tales of Giuseppe are not far from the table!

And just for the record, Giuseppe is still alive and well in Sicily, living in the mountains. And I am told he still rides his donkey into town once in a while!

As my Papa would say, “What a life!”

Sloppy Giuseppes 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 green pepper, diced 1 jalapeno, minced 1 tablespoon brown sugar Tabasco to taste 2 1/2 cups Jasper’s Marinara Sauce* 1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese 4 hamburger buns ( lightly buttered and toasted)

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the ground chuck in

olive oil until browned. Add the onion and bell pepper, saute for five more minutes.

Drain oil. Mix in Jasper’s Marinara Sauce. Stir in garlic, jalapeno, Tabasco to taste and brown sugar. Continue to heat for five to 10 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Mix in cheese and place mixture on toasted buns.

Serve immediately with a glass of Sicilian vino!

Chef Jasper Mirabile of Jasper’s commands the helm of his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, consistently rated one of Kansas City’s best Italian restaurants. In addition to running the restaurant with his brother, Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He hosts many famous chefs on his weekly radio show Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM and sells a line of dressings and sauces.
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