Thursday, May 12, 2011

There ain't no such thing as wrong food

There is traditional chop suey and there is American Chop Suey - it has as many names as it does ingredients . . . American chop suey, American goulash, macaroni and beef, gorp, glop, mac and tomato, American mix, chili mac, cheeseburger macaroni . . . it is clearly an American dish.  But the recipe differs from region to region . . . as does the name.  American Chop Suey is different things to different people but there’s one thing it is to almost everyone . . . comfort food!

I first experience it in the school lunch line.  It’s not fancy, but it’s good. It’s quick, easy and filling.  It’s great left over . . . it’s one of those things I can eat and eat and eat until it’s practically coming out of my ears.  I love it. 

I haven’t been able to confirm it, but I’ve read that chop suey in Chinese translates to "mixed pieces" . . . and if that’s true than it’s easy to see how American Chop Suey got its name being that it’s haphazard hodgepodge of ingredients . . . beans, olives, green peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, ground beef, peas, cheese, macaroni . . . depending on where you go and whose making it.

It’s hard to define a recipe . . . but I’ll give you mine . . . which may vary depending on what ingredients I happen to have available in my fridge and pantry.  The base of the dish is elbow macaroni and bits of cooked ground beef with sautéed onions in a thick tomato-based sauce.  Where you go from there is up to you.  

Cher's American Chopped Suey

15-Oz. Package Elbow Macaroni
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 ½ Pound Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
2 Tbsp Crushed Carlic
2 small Cans Tomato Puree
15-Oz. Can Diced Tomato, With Juice
2 Cans Beans
1 Tbsp Hot Pepper Flakes
3 Tsp Seasoned Salt

Cook the macaroni according to package directions, but cook it 2 minutes less. Drain and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the the onion, garlic & hot pepper flakes in the olive oil until onion is translucent.  

Add  the ground beef and cook until the ground beef is crumbly and done. Drain well.

Pour the diced tomatoes and juice, beans and juice along with the spices into the ground beef mixture. Cook on low heat, mix well. Add spice amounts to satisfy your particular taste. Add a can of tomatoe paste.

When sauce is heated through, add the macaroni and second can of tomato paste.  Cook for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with parmesan cheese or mozzarella cheese.

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