American Chop Suey is a staple in school cafeterias across New England. Outside of New England, you might know it as a Ground Beef Goulash or Macaroni Red. A group of my old classmates recently got together and then posted photos of the gathering on Facebook. That sent me on a nostalgia trip thinking about those long-ago school days, and the American Chop Suey came to mind. Of course, had I really been going for the whole school lunch vibe, I would have served it with a piece of bread and weird a stick of indeterminate orange cheese.
You can really use whatever kind of tomatoes you like. I opted for the petite diced, but you could easily substitute that with stewed or crushed tomatoes. When it comes to the sauce, don't fear the liquid! You will reduce the liquid until it starts to thicken, but it will still be pretty soupy. Once everything is combined, the pasta will soak up that juice and flavor. If you're still skeptical, use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the meat/tomato mixture into the pasta, then add the liquid a little at a time.
1 lb elbow pasta
2 T butter
1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lg onion, diced
1 lg green bell pepper, diced
1 T Italian seasoning
2 t Worcestershire
1/2 t each salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
3 T tomato paste
- Set a large pot of water to boil, season with salt once boiling, add pasta and cook to al dente
- In 2T butter, saute the garlic and onion until the onions are translucent
- Add the bell pepper, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper, stirring well to distribute
- Add the ground beef and cook until just slightly pink - I like to use a large serving fork to break up the beef
- Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced by about half and the peppers are cooked
- Drain the pasta and return to the pot, then stir in the meat mixture
If there are any leftovers, you can freeze them for another occasion. If you want to re-purpose it into another dish, try stirring in some grated Parmesan. Then layer the pasta into a casserole dish, topping with muenster or mozzarella, and another layer of pasta. Cover and freeze. When you want to bake it, top with some pasta sauce and bake until bubbly. Now you have a cheesy noodle bake.