The Sloppy Jessica From Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Staying on a diet is tough — just ask Sergeant Terry Jeffords. This week we’re tackling the ultimate diet-breaking meal: Gina Linetti’s Sloppy Jessica. Not a fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine? You should probably make this anyways.
There are three components to this dish — mac and cheese, chili, and pizza. Similar to the garbage plate, this monster of a sandwich is a few meals combined to create a culinary masterpiece (or disaster, take your pick). While making this, we felt like we were on an episode of Epic Meal Time. You too, can feel like you’re a YouTube star making mad stacks.
This recipe is going to test your multitasking skills. Luckily there’s two of us, so we were able to divide the work. We definitely recommend having a friend help out, assuming of course, that you can find someone who is willing to help you make the Sloppy Jessica. (You’ll definitely need someone to help you eat it, so having a friend or two to help you out is highly recommended.)
In order to make this in the most efficient way possible, you want to make the pizza sauce and the chili simultaneously as they both need time to simmer.
Below are the ingredients we used for our pizza sauce. You could opt for a jar of pizza sauce instead, but we recommend going all-out and making a tasty sauce yourself. The flavours will be 10x better. (And c’mon, store-bought pizza sauce? You can do better.)
- 14 oz diced tomatoes
- 14 oz pureed tomatoes
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- Fresh basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Tomato paste (optional)
Start by heating some olive oil in a pan. Sweat down your chopped onion until it’s translucent and add your minced garlic at the end — cook it briefly before adding in your diced and pureed tomatoes. Now, it’s your pizza sauce, so you can add whatever spices you like (besides salt and pepper — add those at the very end). For example, you can add red pepper flakes or sugar to season to your taste. We opted for a simple sauce with just basil and oregano. Since we had a bit of tomato paste leftover in a tube, we used the remainder of what we had.
🍅 Mediocre Tip: Tomato paste can add quick concentrated-tomato flavour to any sauce. If you don’t have any, then you're going to want to simmer your sauce for a bare minimum of an hour in order to develop the flavours properly.
Simmer your sauce for at least 45 minutes. At the end give it a taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Don’t forget to take out your basil leaves! (Pro tip: Use a spoon to fish it out — don’t use your fingers and fumble it all over the floor like Trevor did.)
Congrats, you’ve just made a delicious AF red sauce!
🍅Mediocre Tip: Have leftover pizza sauce after assembling your Sloppy Jessica? Save it for pasta, pizza… Or round two of the Sloppy Jessica.
Like the red sauce, if you’re feeling lazy you can opt-out of making your own chili, but we don’t recommend buying the canned stuff. This chili was the best part of the Sloppy Jessica — if you can’t find ancho or cascabel chilies at the supermarket, we recommend checking out your local Latin food market. As an alternative, the quick chili everyone’s mom made with ground beef, chili mix, kidney beans, and tomato sauce will do, but it won’t be the same. (It’ll still be dope, but not as dope.)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium white onion
- 14 oz diced tomatoes
- 14 oz pureed tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 ancho chilies, deseeded
- 3 cascabel chilies deseeded
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
Start your chili by toasting the ancho and cascabel chilies in a dry pan on high heat. When they start smelling real good and smoking very slightly, remove them from the pan. Place them into a bowl and cover with boiling water — add just enough to cover them. After about 10 minutes you should have an ancho-cascabel chili tea.
☕ Mediocre Tip: Please don’t drink this. Yes, it smells like earthy chocolate. Yes it looks like coffee and/or very strong Earl Grey tea. Just, please don’t drink the water.
While the chilies are soaking, start browning your ground beef on a medium-high to high heat. Stir for the first few minutes to make sure nothing burns. After the initial browning of the beef, add in the diced onion and allow the beef to get crispy and the onion to sweat out a bit. Stir the mixture around and let it sit again. Do this a few times to get a good crust on the beef, and some nice fond on the pan. Add in your garlic at the end to give your beef and onions some of that magical garlic taste.
Simultaneously (we did tell you that you’ll be working on your multitasking) you’re going to want to transfer your re-hydrated chilies and the water to a blender. Add in the chipotle pepper, the adobo sauce, and your spices. Blend everything together to get a nice chili paste.
Add this to your beef, onions, and garlic. Mix everything around and get ready for your kitchen to smell fantastic. Yeehaw. Finally add in your tomatoes and mix around. Turn the burner to low and allow to simmer for 20-40 minutes. Chili complete.
Macaroni & Cheese
This quick and dirty mac and cheese is better than any boxed crap you could buy. Put down that box of Kraft Dinner and make your own mac and cheese. (Please?) This recipe is one we adapted from our experiments with mac and cheese.
- 1 box of macaroni noodles
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan
- 1½ tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp chili powder
- Salt and pepper to tast
Disclaimer: These values are total estimates. We basically winged it until our cheese sauce was the correct thickness and flavour. Learn the science behind making the best macaroni and cheese to get a better idea of which cheeses and spices to use.
Since we wrote a whole post discussing mac and cheese, we’ll keep things simple here. Boil your macaroni noodles while your pizza sauce and chili are simmering. Drain the noodles and re-use the pot to make your bechamel sauce (because, who wants more dishes?) Melt the butter, add in the flour, and whisk together until a paste forms. Slowly add in the milk ⅓ cup at a time until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt, pepper, and mustard. Add in the cheese to the bechamel sauce.
🥛 Mediocre Tip: If the sauce becomes too thick after adding in the cheese, add in a touch of milk to reduce the consistency to where you want it to be.
Give the cheese sauce a final taste and adjust seasonings as needed. When we made ours, we felt like it was missing a little something — adding a bit of chili powder made our sauce taste complete! Add your noodles to your sauce. You just made mac and cheese, noice.
Yes, we used macaroni noodles instead of ziti noodles, as shown in the show. But it’s called macaroni and cheese, not ziti and cheese. Fight us.
Assembling The Sloppy Jessica
This is your one shot, one opportunity. Don’t mess it up like we almost did. To begin assembling this...thing...cut your french loaf in half. (This is one component that is A-OK to buy straight from the grocery store. No baking required.)
🥖 Mediocre Tip: Try to buy a french loaf that has a nice flat bottom, and if you can, a top that isn’t too round so it lays flat on the baking pan. If your loaf is too curvy or has weird imperfections (ours had a bump on the side), you’ll have to cut pieces off or attempt to squish it flat. If your bread doesn’t lay flat, your pizza toppings may slide off. This isn’t rocket science, but it’s an important factor in the structural integrity of your Sloppy Jessica.
Begin by placing a thin layer of pizza sauce on each half. Top this with a thin layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Layer some pepperoni slices on each half. (Or use whatever your favourite pizza topping is. Just don’t go too crazy, or it’ll all fall out when you try to close it.)
🥖 Mediocre Tip: If you want extra pizza-toppings, hollowing out part of your french bread can help you pizza-fy your bread more, without it being a complete disaster when you put it all together. (But, let’s be real, it’s probably going to be a hot mess.)
Place another, slightly thicker layer of sauce on top of the pepperoni. The last layer is a healthy amount of mozzarella cheese — go nuts, you’ve earned it.
Place the pizza bread in a 425° oven and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy and golden brown.
While the pizza bread is in the oven, mix together your chili with your macaroni and cheese. You could just put them on separately, but it’s easier this way. Take the pizza bread out of the oven and allow it to cool slightly before spreading a a layer of chili-mac on the bottom half of your sandwich.
This is the part where everything could go so very wrong: very carefully flip the top half of your pizza bread on the bottom half. We recommend mustering up as much confidence as you can and just going for it. So often we doubt ourselves in life, this is an opportunity to grab life by the balls and just do something. Failed your flip? Don’t worry about it, your sandwich is about to be demolished when you try cutting into it — filling everywhere!
🥖 Mediocre Tip: Want to share with friends? Making multiple mini-Sloppy Jessica’s with jumbo buns is a better idea than creating one monstrous french loaf sandwich. Yea, it’s not cannon to the show, but it will make it a lot easier to eat.
Our Mediocre Thoughts
👨🍳 Trevor: Let me start this out by saying that I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I binged the first two seasons when I was on spring break in college and have been keeping up ever since. So when Brittany suggested we make this I immediately was on board 100%.
This was by no means the hardest recipe we’ve ever made. I’d actually rank this as easier than the garbage plate. Yes, there’s a few different components that need to be made, and yes it will be tough trying to do it all at once. But it’s not that hard. The red sauce is simple, the chili is simple, the mac and cheese, well, we’re mac and cheese masters now, so that was simple. Honestly, the hardest part is flipping the two sandwich halves together.
In terms of taste, it was delicious. There was a moment, right before I took my first bite, where I had flashbacks to the garbage plate and thought, “oh no, have we gone too far again?” It turns out that no, we didn’t. The tastes all just worked together. The chili was probably the tastiest part. By the way, if you aren’t making chili with a homemade chili paste, you need to rectify that immediately — the depth of flavour that comes from using a homemade chili paste is insane.
This thing is an absolute nightmare to eat, but it tastes delicious. And it will satisfy like three cravings at once.
👩🍳Brittany: Confession: I have never watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I want to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine after eating this sandwich, even though I know the taste of this sandwich is completely unrelated to the show. (I also want to watch it because Terry Crews is in it, let’s be real here.)
After eating the garbage plate (meat sauce, fried potatoes, pasta salad, and hot dogs on a plate), I didn’t think there would be anything that could come close to the ridiculousness of that meal. I was wrong — the Sloppy Jessica was a strong contender. Mac and cheese, chili, and pizza? I’ve had those as meals on their own before, but never together piled on a sandwich. When I saw Binging With Babish create the Sloppy Jessica, I knew we had to make it.
Confusing for the tastebuds? Yes. Delicious? Indeed. Messy? Most definitely. But I’d eat it all over again.
Our Final Review
Taste: 5 confused taste buds out of 5 👅👅👅👅👅
Presentation: 1 sloppy sandwich out of 5 🥪
Affordability: 3 meals in one out of 5 🍕🌶️🧀
While our taste buds were confused, they were delighted. It can be hard to decipher which flavours are which, but what our taste buds could agree on was that it was delicious. (We both think that the chili made this thing.)
We gave the Sloppy Jessica a 1/5 for presentation — It should come as no surprise that a sandwich called the Sloppy Jessica will not be visually appealing. Putting a sprig of parsley beside it and a toothpick in it won’t make it look good.
Now, let’s talk affordability. We rated it 3/5, but obviously if you use canned ingredients and boxed mac and cheese, you can make this on the cheap.
Want to watch someone else make a slightly less-sloppy Sloppy Jessica? Follow along with Binging With Babish: