Some might argue that the south is home to the best food in America. While I can agree that we have it made down here below the Mason-Dixon line, I feel like the northern states don’t get the credit they deserve. Our Louisiana mama has instilled some of her best Cajun recipes into our brains, but our Yankee dad has brought some seriously scrumptious Jersey recipes to the table as well (in more ways than one).
I present exhibit A: the Jersey-style “sloppy joe.”
As you can see, this sandwich does not appear to be your typical “Manwich”-style sloppy joe. You may be thinking, “where do y’all come up with this crap?” Well, our dear ol’ dad grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey where he was a regular at a fabulous little sandwich shop called Millburn Deli. This deli specializes in all sorts of monster sandwiches, but Dad’s favorite was always the “Original Ham Sloppy Joe.”
After leaving Jersey later in life, Dad began to desperately miss his favorite sandwich. This prompted him to attempt to recreate it on his own. Apparently, this was no easy task. Dad explains that it took “decades” to perfect the seedy bread, the exact cut and flavor of ham, and the precise bread-to-filling ratio. Alas, he has nearly mastered it and now we don’t even have to leave the state to indulge in this incredible sandwich!
Now that Dad has uncovered this copycat recipe, he is allowing me to share it with you all. Even if you’ve never had the opportunity to try the real thing in New Jersey, I can almost guarantee that this will be your new favorite sandwich.
Dad has determined that Jewish rye bread is an essential component to making this sloppy joe perfect. Don’t even think about shaming our family and buying Wonderbread or something.
Another key ingredient? Butter. Don’t skip it!
Then comes the meat. It may sound bland, but boiled ham is the way to go here. Dad recommends the low sodium kind from the Publix deli, sliced thin.
After the ham is nestled in for the party, add your thinly sliced Swiss cheese.
Next comes the middle piece of your Jewish rye.
You’ll start off your second layer with shredded coleslaw with carrots (Dad also recommends Publix here).
Now you’ll want to smother that coleslaw in some Thousand Island dressing. Wish Bone, if we’re being particular. Which we are, because sloppy joe creation is an ART.
Lastly, top that puppy off with your last slice of bread.
Now, pay close attention because this is the MOST important aspect of the entire creation. The way you CUT this perfect sandwich is KEY. If you fail to cut this sloppy properly then you might as well throw the entire thing out the window because it’s RUINED.
You’ll want to save that beautiful middle piece for last. Don’t tell me if you eat it first because I will be absolutely offended.
Have you ever seen a more beautiful sight?
Now, I was only fortunate enough to have this original sandwich from the real Millburn Deli once during my childhood. However, my Dad’s copycat recipe has never disappointed. Everyone who has ever been lucky enough to try both sandwiches has confirmed that Dad’s version is the real deal.
So, come on. Spruce up your weekday lunch a little bit and give this northern treat a try. You’ll be glad you did!
- 3 slices Jewish rye bread
- Soft butter or margarine
- 3-4 slices boiled ham, thinly cut
- 2-3 slices swiss cheese, thinly cut
- 2-3 tablespoons shredded cole slaw with carrots
- 1-2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing
- Butter your first piece of bread and top with ham and swiss cheese. Add middle piece of bread. Atop that piece, spread cole slaw evenly and smother with Thousand Island dressing before finishing with top piece of bread.