To increase the burger-like flavors of my sloppy Joes, I employ a couple of extra tricks. First, I make sure to get some browning on the meat. If you add ground meat in crumbled form to a hot skillet, it’ll start steaming before it can begin to sear. Instead, add the meat in very large pieces so that there’s less meat hitting and crowding the pan. It’ll turn deep brown in minutes. Salt it, then do your best to flip it in once piece to a second side. (Don’t worry too much if it starts to fall apart.) After the second sear, use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl, leaving behind any rendered fat.
The second trick is to add a couple of smoky ingredients that mimic the flavor of grilled burgers: smoked paprika and minced chipotle peppers in adobo. Give these about 30 seconds in the hot skillet to bring out their flavor, and then pour in a couple cups of canned tomato sauce. Let it come to a simmer and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. At this point, the meat can go into the sauce. Use a spoon to break it up into small pieces, then let it simmer until you’re ready to serve.