I recommend lean ground beef but you can use what you like including healthier options such as ground turkey. I used 90/10 ground sirloin in mine.
If you use anything fattier than 90/10, you'll want to drain most of the grease off before adding the other ingredients.
Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225 °F using pecan, oak, or whatever smoking wood you have available. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
Put 2 lbs of ground meat in a 12-inch iron skillet and break it up a little with a spatula to allow maximum smoke exposure.
Once the smoker is ready, place the entire iron skillet on the smoker grate and let it cook for about 45-60 minutes or until the ground beef is browned and cooked.
While the meat is cooking is a great time to chop and cook the onion, pepper and garlic.
Dice a medium onion.
Dice a whole green pepper (other colors are also okay)
Mince about 4 garlic cloves. Feel free to use more if you're a garlic freak like me.
Heat a large iron skillet over medium heat and add about 2 TBS of butter to the pan.
Once the butter is sizzling, add the vegetables and 1 TBS of the Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).
Let it cook for about 2 minutes before stirring them around. Let them cook for another 2 minutes and stir them around again. Continue this dance until they are soft and wimpy and you see some blackening starting to happen, especially on the onions.
When they are finished, remove the pan from the heat.
When the meat is done smoking and is brown and fully cooked, bring it into the house and set the pan on the stove over low heat.
Reminder: if your ground beef is fattier than 90/10, you'll probably want to drain most of the grease before continuing with the recipe.
Add the vegetables as well as the barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce), yellow mustard, chili powder, and condensed tomato soup (no water) to the same pan with the cooked meat and stir everything to combine.
Let the smoked sloppy joes simmer in the pan uncovered until you are satisfied with the consistency. I don't like it to be soupy but it should be a really wet mix.
Mine took about 15 minutes of simmering to get the right consistency.
During this time, add a little salt and pepper to taste (optional). I ended up adding ½ teaspoon of coarse salt and 1 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper to mine.
Note: if at any time you feel like it needs to have more liquid added to it, just add a little more of the condensed tomato soup or you can add a small amount of water.
I've heard a lot of people say they don't like sloppy joes because they don't like soggy bread.. the trick is buttering and grilling the bottom of the buns. It becomes crisp and doesn't sog up like non-toasted bread does.
When the smoked sloppy joes are almost finished, butter up the buns.
Place the buns buttered side down on a hot griddle or iron skillet over medium heat.
This only takes about a minute so keep a close eye on them until it gets the amount of “toastiness” that you like.
Pile about 1/3 cup of the smoked sloppy joes on the bottom bun and cap it off with the top bun.
I don't care for cheese on my sloppy Joes but if that's your thing, have at it!
When the sandwiches are ready, serve it up with plenty of paper towels and, of course, some good crunchy kettle chips on the side.
The smoke on the meat adds a nice layer of flavor but I could have used more smokiness. I am thinking you could possibly simmer this in the smoker instead of on the stove and get more smoke flavor that way.