Sonoran Desert Italian Sloppy Joes
1 pounds lean ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3-ounce tomato paste
14.5 ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
Garlic Toast, recipe follows, for serving (I use Garlic Texas Toast)
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the beef. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then remove the beef and drain off the fat.
To the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cook the peppers and onions until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or 2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, oregano and basil and bring to a simmer. Return the beef to the pan and simmer until the mixture is nice and thick, about 10 minutes. If it gets too thick, thin it with a little water. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve: Spoon a nice portion of sauce over each of 4 slices of the Garlic Toast. Let the sauce cascade over the sides, then prop a second piece of Garlic Toast over to the side of each. Garnish with extra grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.