My Dad had a buddy who loved to hunt and was good at it. Looking back I have always wished I had had more time to hunt with Dad and Everett (who are both now gone), if no other reason than to enjoy the good-natured ribbing and ever-getting-taller story telling of the same stories before, during and after each hunting trip. One of my favorite quotes from Everett came after a flock of geese flew over my Dad and me. We didn’t shoot. Everett politely inquired as to why. Dad yelled over, “They were too high.” Everett responded “#%#>**! Olson; They don’t shoot back!” That was Everett.
Well Everett was married to Midge who as far as I know didn’t care that Everett loved to hunt. It was just the two of them. I also know she did all the cooking and I believe she liked to cook. (She is still alive so I really should call her and ask her.) Well, being a good hunter Everett always brought home game. There was always venison in his freezer–most of it made into summer sausage, a few steaks and some ground venison. Midge didn’t eat game and didn’t cook game. The one dish Everett cooked was a ground venison version of Sloppy Joe’s that he called Speedy Beef. Midge ate that, perhaps because Everett had actually cooked something, or “beef” was in the name, the fact it didn’t taste gamey, or simply her love for Everett or most likely a combination of them all. I have taught this recipe at different venues around the country and have used ground beef, turkey, chicken and pork but I always tell the story of where I got the name.
This is one of the very few recipes that I use in classes that utilizes a specific product that gives the dish a particular taste. The recipe calls for canned stewed tomatoes. Adding them to any recipe makes that dish taste like canned stewed tomatoes (much like using vegetable cocktail juice (V8) makes any soup or beverage taste predominately like that). I enjoy the taste in this dish probably because it takes me back to the time I first tasted Everett’s cooking of Speedy Beef. The funny part about Speedy Beef is that even though it cooks so quickly, Everett always made it better by having us sip brandy on the rocks with a splash of water, until it was “just right.” So in honor of National Sloppy Joe Day, and in memory of Dad, Everett and the geese that got away, I give you Everett’s recipe for Speedy Beef which sounds so much better than Sloppy Venison. It is after all, all in the name.
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, pasted
1 pound ground venison, buffalo, emu, beef, turkey, chicken or pork
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Method: Combine the onion, green pepper, garlic and ground meat in a pot. Over medium high heat, cook, breaking up the ground meat. When the meat has browned, drain any excess liquid and fat. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook simmering, 15 minutes. Serve as desired.