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RBR Tailgating: Sloppy Joes, Slop, Sloppy Joes

"If you think there is such a thing as an unimportant game, just try losing one." - Coach Gene Stallings
Stallings' admonition aside, I'm kind of letting things go this weekend.

This is what Google thinks (or doesn't think) of "Middle Tennesse State".
This is what Google thinks (or doesn't think) of "Middle Tennesse State".

One of the great things about being an Alabama fan is that our faith in our players and coaching staff is rarely misplaced. They do not look past an opponent. They respect the effort and ability of every team they face. The Process is about doing things properly, perfectly, and purposely no matter who is across the line of scrimmage. It is not about whom you play but how you play.

Mindset is very important for players and coaches. As for fans... wellllllllllllllll.

I've not been shy on this subject. I've made my case on these electronic pages before. I don't so much as look past decidedly lesser opponents as much as completely ignore them and hope I don't trip over them as I pass by on my way to the next game. My mind is already fixed on the Ole Miss Rebears (I'm sure that terrifies them).

No offense to Middle Tennessee State. For all I know a renaissance is brewing in the halls of Murfreesboro. They may be on the cutting edge of cancer research or conjuring up warp drive. Theirs might be the most amazing student body since Kathy Ireland left school, but none of that is going to help them on the field.

I'm sure they have a few top level athletes peppered about and I have no reason to believe that their players are anything but dedicated and determined. That said, I can't imagine any scenario where we don't come out of Bryant-Denny with a win next Saturday that doesn't involve SMOD.

So players and coaching staff: work hard, eyes on the prize, no pain no gain. The rest of us, we can afford to be... I'm sure you see where I'm going with this.

Sloppy Joes are the quintessential school lunch food. I'm fairly certain that until this week I had never eaten one outside of a school cafeteria. I can still remember the nun monitoring my first grade lunch line looking at me oddly when I asked her what a Sloppy Joe is.

There a several origin stories pegging the sandwich's invention to Sioux City, Havana, and various cities around the Midwest. My favorite one is that Earnest Hemingway's favorite speakeasy in Key West went legit the same day prohibition ended. Originally called The Blind Pig, Hemingway talked the owner into changing the name to Sloppy Joe's after a fish and liquor store in Havana. Eventually, The Blind Pig-cum-Sloppy Joe's started serving food and the rest is loose meat history.

That's my favorite story, but I have trouble believing it. If you've ever read The Nick Adams Stories you know what a penchant Hemingway has for having his characters put food in their pockets. There's always a sandwich wrapped in newspaper in someone's coat. That just doesn't work with a Sloppy Joe.

This particular recipe is a loosely modified version of David Waltuck's from his book Staff Meals, a collection of pre-shift favorites from his award winning restaurant Chanterelle in Chicago.

Sloppy Joe

1 lb. Lean Ground Beef

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Ketchup to taste (not catsup)

1/2 tsp. Chili Powder

Pinch Hot Pepper Flakes

Salt to taste

Pickles to taste, diced (optional)

Toasted Buns

Olive Oil or other Vegetable Oil

Makes 4 servings

Pour a few glugs of olive oil into a pan, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and meat and brown. Be sure to break the beef up as finely as possible.

Once the meat is browned, add the chili powder, hot pepper flakes, and start adding ketchup a little bit at a time. I'll pretend for a minute that, like first grade me, you've never seen a Sloppy Joe before and tell you to aim for a sticky consistency. You do not want runny. Keep adding ketchup until you are satisfied.

Sloppy Joes Pan

Salt to taste. Adjust spicy things if so desired.

Put a portion on a toasted bun, top with diced pickles should you desire and enjoy.

Sloppy Joe Close Up

Back to the game. Does it give me pause that the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders put up 70 points last week? That last year they gave Minnesota a run for their money, beat Southern Miss, and took out the WKU Hilltoppers in triple overtime? No. That's my beloved coaching staff's problem.

I'm chowing down on a messy sandwich, laying back with a glass of wine, and celebrating a 2-0 start for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Maybe Scotch. This game should be fun to watch.

P.S. The Blue Raiders will destroy Vanderbilt on Oct. 3. There is no extinguishing that dumpster fire in Nashville.