Sloppy José


2 1/4 lb ground chuck or 85% lean ground beef chuck
1 T olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2 T chili powder
2 t garlic powder
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
1/2 t dried cilantro, or 1 T fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 t ground black pepper
Salt to taste (start with just a pinch or two)
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1 can water
1 T lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 T plus 1 t firmly packed brown sugar
2 t spicy brown mustard
1/4-1/2 t Tabasco Sauce
8 whole wheat hamburger buns

Spoon Mage™ Ingredient Notes:

Chili powder is not the same thing as the powder of a specific chile. The powder here is a blend. Often it includes ancho, chipotle, cumin, garlic, and other seasonings. Each brand or recipe has its own list of ingredients. My favorite grab and add chili powder is Gebhardt’s. Please feel free to use the brand you would use if you were making chili.

If you do not have dried cilantro, use 1-2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped. Add it with the lemon mixture instead of with the dried spices. No cilantro? That’s ok, use some flat parsley.

If a guest does not like spicy foods, omit the Tabasco while cooking and serve it at the table instead.

Those with a sweet tooth should use 2 rounded tablespoons of packed brown sugar.


Chop the onion. Place the chili powder, garlic, cumin, paprika, cilantro, pepper, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, stir the lemon juice with the brown sugar, mustard, and Tabasco.

Pour the oil into a large sauce pan set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and stir until the pieces are softened, but not browned.

Add the hamburger to the onion and brown the beef well. Drain excess fat.

Mix the dried seasonings into the burger mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Stir once.

Add the tomato paste and one can full of water to the hamburger mix. Stir well. The mixture will be very thick. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the lemon juice mixture to the pot. Stir well, cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit you.

Serve with whole wheat hamburger buns and assorted toppings such as cheddar cheese, jalapeno slices, onions, and hot sauces. A side of pineapple slices or dark red grapes finishes the meal beautifully.

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