My mother-in-law made this meal for her eight kids for years. I talked her out of the recipe. The rest is history.
These joes are the perfect balance of tangy with a touch of sweet, inexpensive to make, can be made ahead of time, can be frozen, and can hide healthy things. I've substituted cracked wheat cereal or 9-grain cereal for up to half of the meat without getting caught.
I did make some changes to her original recipe to fit my family's needs. I believe in the make it in a hurry method whenever possible. Life is busy. Kids have sports. Sometimes I forget to start dinner....sigh.
2 lb hamburger
2 c catsup
1 T lemon juice
½ c chopped celery
¼ c chopped green pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 T vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ T Worcestershire sauce
2 T brown sugar
¼ c water
½ T dry mustard (or less)
Brown meat and drain. Add all ingredients and let cook on low heat for one hour or longer until sauce becomes thick.
My In a Hurry Method: Brown and drain the hamburger. While meat is cooking, sauté the celery, peppers, and onion in 1 T butter until tender, then add to the meat. Add all remaining ingredients, but omit the water. Simmer for 10 -15 minutes.
Healthy variation: I have also substituted up to 2 cups of cooked 9-grain or cracked wheat cereal for half of the hamburger. This was usually left-overs from breakfast. Kids never knew the difference.