Recipe: American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey

This post is part of Angie C’s ongoing “Sustainability and The Single Mom” series. Enjoy the recipe!

As a single mom, I’m always looking to expand on my kid’s diet … but without breaking the bank. It would also be nice if we strayed from the world of chicken nuggets/fingers/tenders once in a while.

Having been back in Massachusetts from California for over a year now, I keep finding myself rediscovering old New England classics. I was cooking for my Dad recently and he had a request: “Hey Ang, I bought some hamburgah meat.” (Yes, read it with the Boston accent). “How ’bout some American Chop Suey?”

Why yes! Of course! This dish is common all over the country, but it seems to be only known by this moniker in the New England area. (I’ve heard it called American Goulash elsewhere.)

It’s not spaghetti sauce … it’s simpler, and has a much cleaner, true food flavor.

It sounds Italian in nature, but it’s all ‘Merican, my friend. Trust me. As Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) would say … “It’s got bold flavors.”

The beauty of this dish is not only can I convince my picky eight year old to eat it, but I can make a nice big batch and have leftovers for days. Best of all? It is cheap and easy to make.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 box of elbow macaroni (for traditional … if you want to get fancy, try corkscrew shaped pasta, the kind with ridges so they can grab more of the sauce)
  • 1 pound of 80/20 organic ground beef (you can sub ground turkey or chicken for healthier versions)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-2 large cans of plum tomatoes (often referred to as “stewed,” a fancy term for tomatoes that are peeled and cooked for preservation … you can used diced or whole as well … I prefer whole and then squish them by hand in a separate bowl before adding)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • olive oil

What to do:

  1. In a large sauté pan (on medium to high heat), heat the onion and pepper in olive oil. Add kosher salt and pepper. When the onion is translucent, add the ground beef and cook until brown.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. Be careful not to burn the garlic … the less time it’s sauteeing, the better. Quickly add the stewed tomatoes and reduce heat.
  3. In a separate pan, boil water for pasta and follow directions on the box. Cook one to two minutes less than instructed. You don’t want it to overcook because you’ll be adding it to the sauce where it will continue to cook for another minute or two.
  4. When pasta is very al dente, drain and add to the original sauce pan. Mix together and voila: American chop suey. Serve in bowls with Parmesan cheese on the side. It’s a delight for kids of all ages.

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