Red Curry Sloppy Joes With Coconut-Scallion Biscuits

October 13, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Bette Blau. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I once had the best job in the world: lunch lady at an elementary school. For 175 days each year I cranked out scratch-made pizza, stirred cauldrons of black beans and rice, and baked dozens of pans of macaroni and cheese for the most appreciative audience I’ve ever cooked for. Among the most requested meal was sloppy joes. Every time I made a batch, I’d think of Adam Sandler’s song, Lunch Lady Land, laughing to myself as I spooned the meat mixture onto plush potato buns. A classic sloppy joe—ground beef simmered in a tangy-sweet sauce with tomato and vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire—is a beautiful thing, its flavor and texture reminiscent of both barbecue and bolognese. But other, less-classic versions are no less wonderful. You might try a vegan version, with lentils standing in for the meat. Or this version of mine, where the ground beef (or ground turkey) is seasoned with Thai-style red curry paste (my go-to is Mae Ploy) and simmered in coconut milk. Serve on homemade scallion drop biscuits or, if you’re pressed for time, substitute store-bought hamburger buns. Even with the extra flex of a freshly baked biscuit, this dinner can be on the table in under 40 minutes. —Jessica Battilana

What You'll Need
  • Biscuits
  • 2/3 cup (56 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams/1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups (284 grams) buttermilk
  • Sloppy Joes
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) red curry paste
  • 1 pound (454 grams) ground beef (or dark-meat ground turkey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (301 grams) coconut milk (not light)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (22 grams) chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, divided
  • 2 cups (175 grams) shredded green or red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup (6 grams) finely chopped mint leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  1. Make the biscuits: Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and turn on the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, add the coconut, and, while the oven is coming to temperature, immediately place the coconut in the heating oven. Toast until golden brown, checking often, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Cut the butter into the flour mixture (using two butter knives, a dough cutter, or your fingertips) until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Stir in the coconut and scallions, then pour in the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Spoon 6 large mounds (about heaping ½ cup each) of dough onto the lined pan, spacing them evenly. Transfer to the oven and bake until deep golden brown, about 16 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  2. While the biscuits bake, make the filling: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the red curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 45 seconds. Add the beef and salt, using a wooden spoon to break up the beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just cooked through, about 5 minutes, adding more oil if the pan looks dry. Add the coconut milk and sugar, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until some of the liquid is absorbed but the mixture is still saucy, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in ¼ cup of the cilantro. Season to taste with additional salt.
  3. Make the slaw: In a small bowl, combine the cabbage, mint, and the remaining ¼ cup cilantro with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the lime juice. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Assemble: To serve, split the biscuits crosswise. Spoon some of the beef mixture onto the bottom half of each biscuit. Top with some of the slaw and the top of the biscuit to form a sandwich. Serve right away, with lots of napkins. (For leftovers, let the meat mixture cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container. The biscuits can be stored in an airtight container or foil at room temperature.)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
    Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
  • B

2 Reviews

B May 1, 2022
I was really excited to try this recipe, as we have several red Thai curries (of varying sorts) in our menu rotation. One caveat: I did not add the sugar or coconut to the biscuits. I had to add more flour, and they still spread quite a bit.

Our store only had one brand of red Thai curry, which was Thai Kitchen; we normally use Mesri. This may have been the issue, as I had to add a lot more of the curry paste to give the dish a deep curry flavor (otherwise, it just tasted of coconut milk) and I ended up adding some dried ginger and fish sauce to also amp up the flavor. Once I did that, it was quite good, and I especially liked it with the slaw. The mint was key. Thanks for the recipe!
Emily |. January 5, 2022
Delicious and unique! Used sweetened coconut in the biscuits as it’s what I had. I did have to cook down much longer than 5 min after adding the coconut to get the sloppy joe texture I wanted but boy was it worth it for the flavor. Big hit in our house.