Food & Drink

New Jersey Sloppy Joe

Excerpted from Dishing Up® New Jersey by John Hall. 

In certain parts of the Garden State, the term “sloppy Joe” does not refer to the sandwich made with ground beef and tomato sauce but, instead, a deli classic: a double-decker sandwich that combines two meats (usually beef tongue and oven-roasted turkey), Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on rye bread. This recipe pays homage to the Town Hall Deli in South Orange, which claims to be the originator of the sandwich in this form. While some sandwiches benefit from haphazard, pile-it-on construction, with a Jersey sloppy Joe, uniformity and proper layering are key to keep it from falling apart. Use coleslaw and Russian dressing to taste, but a thin layer of each is really all you need.

For the Russian Dressing

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickle or pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated

For the Sandwiches

  • 3 (1/2-inch thick) slices fresh rye bread, crusts removed, cut lengthwise from a whole 9-inch loaf
  • 6 thin slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 ounces coleslaw
  • Russian dressing
  • 4 thin slices beef tongue, corned beef, or pastrami, trimmed to fit the bread
  • 4 thin slices oven-roasted turkey breast, trimmed to fit the bread


  1. To make the Russian Dressing, combine the ketchup, mayonnaise, pickle, horseradish, paprika, and garlic in a bowl or food processor and blend until everything is fully incorporated. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
  2. Once the dressing is chilled, you can start making the sandwiches. Lay three slices of cheese on one slice of bread and top with coleslaw, then Russian dressing, then tongue. Lay a second slice of rye bread over the tongue. Again, lay down three slices cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing, followed by the turkey. Top with the third slice of bread.
  3. Slice the sandwich into three equal sections and then halve those sections lengthwise, creating six equal pieces.

About the Book:

New Jersey native John Holl searched from Sussex County to Cape May to find the best recipes New Jersey has to offer, and the result is this rich and unique cookbook celebrating the foods, flavors, cultures, and traditions of the Garden State. These 150 recipes include dishes featuring New Jersey’s own produce—tomatoes, corn, cranberries, blueberries, apples—along with deep-fried boardwalk treats, late-night diner bites, and recipes contributed by casinos, bison and dairy farms, food trucks, old-school delis, famous bakeries, and more. You’ll find Pork Roll Surprise, Sautéed Ricotta Gnocchi, Cucumber Gazpacho, Ukrainian Holubtsi, Radish Bread, Dry Vegetarian Curry, Funnel Cake at Home, Tomato and Onion Salad, Thai Fish Cakes, Jersey Green Clam Chowder, Sunday Gravy, Saltwater Taffy, Traditional Amish Chili, Classic Lawrenceville Mac & Cheese, Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, Jersey Disco Fries, Jamaican Jerk Meatballs, Fresh Jersey Corn Cakes, Honey Thyme Caramel, Black and Blue Cobbler—and a classic Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich. Beautifully photographed, this collection is the ultimate tribute to New Jersey’s best.

Buy the Book
Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Workman

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