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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Southwestern Sloppy Joes

Mom's classic sandwich recipe is even better with waterfowl and this tangy, savory sauce
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By Scott Leysath 

I was raised on casseroles, pot roasts, and other slow-cooked, meaty dishes. If memory serves me right, my mother's basic sloppy Joe recipe was ground beef simmered in tomato sauce, onions, celery, garlic, sugar, and a little vinegar. I do remember that she was overjoyed when she later discovered Hunt's Manwich sauce. This made an easy recipe even easier. All she had to do was brown some ground beef, add a can of the ready-made mixture, heat, and serve on hamburger buns. Close, Mom, but not a true sloppy Joe! 

Over the past few years, I've been fortunate enough to work with the Sportsman Channel's Hunt.Fish.Feed program, which helps provide nutritious wild game meals for the homeless and hungry across the United States. One of the more popular dishes we've served is a venison sloppy Joe with a southwestern accent. 

Here's the same recipe made with ground waterfowl breast fillets. If you don't have a grinder or food processor (see sidebar), simply cut skinless breast fillets into bite-sized chunks. Chunked meat needs to simmer over low heat for an hour or two until it breaks apart easily like stewed beef or pork. Ground meat can be browned in oil along with the vegetables and simmered for 20 minutes or so. The longer it simmers over low heat, the better the flavor.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes  
Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Serves: 6–8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced 
  • 1 bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced 
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced 
  • 1 pound duck or goose breasts, trimmed of all skin and sinew and cut into small cubes (about 4 cups) 
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 2/3 cup tomato salsa 
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice 
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tequila (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Warm corn or flour tortillas
  • Chopped red onion
  • Shredded cheese 

Directions

Step 1
Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion, peppers, and celery and cook until onions are translucent.

Step 2
Add waterfowl meat to pan. Once browned, stir in garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, cumin, salsa, lime juice, brown sugar, and tequila. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 90 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
 
Step 3
Spoon meat onto tortillas and top with red onion and cheese.


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