Hye Thyme Cafe: American Chop Suey

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey: Hye Thyme Cafe

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 a weird 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
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil, season with salt once boiling, add pasta and cook to al dente
  2. In 2T butter, saute the garlic and onion until the onions are translucent
  3. Add the bell pepper, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper, stirring well to distribute
  4. Add the ground beef and cook until just slightly pink - I like to use a large serving fork to break up the beef
  5. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced by about half and the peppers are cooked
  6. 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.

Saute garlic and onion until translucent
Stir in green pepper, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper

Add the ground beef, breaking up with a large serving fork
Cook until the ground beef is still slightly pink

Stir in the tomatoes and tomato pasteSimmer until sauce is reduced by about half

Drain pasta, return to pot, and stir in meat mixture

American Chop Suey: Hye Thyme Cafe

American Chop Suey: Hye Thyme Cafe


  1. Love it! I actually got nostalgic for this a few months ago and made some, but I'll give your recipe a try, it looks closer than what I ended up with. I actually requested American Chop Suey for my 'birthday meal' one year as a kid. Grew up north of Boston.

    1. As much as I liked this (it would be hard for me to find a pasta dish I didn't like), it wasn't quite what I remembered. I'm thinking maybe a little sugar mixed in there somewhere??? Funny how music and food imprint certain times in our lives. :)


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