Monday, December 28, 2015

38. Southwest Turkey Sloppy Joe Tacos


I often find inspiration for my taco recipes in restaurant meals.  There is (or was) a really tasty turkey sloppy joe that I've had a couple of times at an Arizona restaurant called Zinburger.  It had kind of a southwestern twist to it (some chiles in the mix somewhere) and a slice of cheddar cheese.  I thought it could be a great jumping-off point for a taco recipe!

Unfortunately, when I looked at the menu (to remind myself of all the components), I found that it has been replaced by a beef sloppy joe.  Maybe it's the same?  I'm not sure.  I decided to go with the idea anyway, in spite of the fact that my memory of the turkey sloppy joe was not entirely clear.

I remembered a little bit of spice in the sloppy joe mix, some cheddar cheese, and some kind of spicy mayo.  I don't specifically remember lettuce, but I almost feel obligated to add some kind of lettuce, cabbage, or slaw to my savory taco recipes!

The end result looks a lot like your run-of-the-mill "Americanized taco", but it doesn't taste like one!

Here's the recipe:

Southwest Turkey Sloppy Joe Tacos

Serves 4 (about 12 tacos) 


For the poblano mayo:

One poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For the ground turkey mixture:

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium garlic clove, crushed in a garlic press
1 tsp. New Mexico chile powder
1/4 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
One 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. cider vinegar

12 crunchy taco shells (I used Trader Joe's Brand.)

4 to 6 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Chile powder, for garnish (optional)


1.  Make the poblano mayo:  Stir the poblano pepper, mayonnaise, yogurt, and salt together in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Cover and set aside.

2.  Make the turkey filling:  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion.  Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and peppers and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.  Add the chile powder and oregano and cook for another minute, or until fragrant.  Add the turkey, salt, and pepper and increase the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring and breaking apart with a spatula, until the turkey is slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, honey, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.  Cook gently until most of the liquid is reduced.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  Keep warm.

3.  Prepare the shells:  Preheat an oven (or toaster oven) to 375 degrees.  Place the desired number of shells on a baking sheet.  Toast until hot and just starting to brown - about 1 to 3 minutes.  This could vary depending on your oven, so watch them carefully.  They can go from browned to burned very quickly!

4.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a shell on a plate.  Fill with some of the turkey mixture.  Top with a generous amount of grated cheese.  Add some lettuce and spoon on some of the poblano mayo.  Finish with a sprinkle of chile powder, if desired.  Enjoy!

If you've read any of my other taco recipes featuring hard shells, you might have noticed that the photos are always a mess.  The tacos won't stand up and the filling spills out all over the plate.  Well . . . no more!  Check out these nifty taco holders that my youngest sister put in my Christmas stocking!  She knows me very well!  :)

We both really enjoyed these.  Steve tasted them and said, "These remind me of something, but I don't know what . . . "  (Sloppy joes, maybe?)

Actually, that wasn't what he was thinking of.  Ha ha.  After I told him about my inspiration, he mentioned that he didn't have much experience with sloppy joes as a kid.  I did.  It's a great meal for a big family!

Anyway, I think these tacos evoke good memories of comfort food.  Steve also said that these are the perfect "gringo" tacos.  He meant that as a good thing!

We've gotten to the point where we're trying to avoid leftover tacos.  However, we'll be eating the rest of these tonight.  We're both excited about that.  I think that makes this recipe a winner!

In addition to the taco holders, I also received a taco shaper (for deep-frying) in my stocking.  I'm excited to try that soon.  Hmmm . . . flour tortillas deep-fried and dusted with cinnamon and sugar?  The possibilities are endless.  Cheesecake tacos?  Coconut cream tacos?  Cherry pie tacos?  O.O


I'll be back tomorrow with MORE TACOS!  I'm going to try and squeeze one more recipe in before the new year.

Please feel free to comment!  Did you try these?  What did you think?  Thanks for reading!  :)

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