Our variation on the sloppy Joe, the equally slovenly "Tom," has all the sass and sauciness of the traditional version, but it's made with lean ground turkey instead of ground beef. And our hearty Toms teach kids how to chop an onion and thicken a sauce.
Why we use oats: They might seem like an unusual ingredient to include in a recipe like this, but oats actually help thicken the sauce. That's because as the oats cook, their starch granules absorb moisture. But don't overheat the sauce: above 200º, the granules burst and the sauce thins out again. Starch is found in a variety of foods, including wheat, arrowroot, and cornstarch -- a highly processed form. We chose oats for our recipe because they also supply a satisfying, slightly chewy texture.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and the pepper, and, stirring often, saute them over high heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the chili powder and saute the mixture for another minute. Add the ground turkey and salt to the skillet, breaking up the meat with a fork or wooden spoon, and cook it until it's no longer pink.
Add the water, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, and tomato paste and stir the mixture as you bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and continue cooking at a simmer with the pan covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the oats and the scallions. With the pan uncovered, cook the mixture over low heat until it thickens, about 7 minutes. If the mixture is saucier than you like, cook it for a few more minutes; if it's not saucy enough, add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet and heat it briefly.
Serve on toasted hamburger buns as you would regular sloppy joes. Makes 6 servings.
HOW TO CHOP AN ONION:
Carefully slice off the top of the onion (the end without the root). Make sure to keep all fingers clear of the cutting edge! Stand the onion on the cut end and slice down through the root to split it in half lengthwise.
Pull the outer skin back toward the root, completely exposing the underlayer. Holding the onion and its skin in one hand, make four or five vertical cuts down the length of the onion, with the tip of the knife coming just short of the root so the onion holds together.
Starting at the cut end, make a series of slices across the onion to chop it. The closer the slices, the finer the chop.