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American Chop Suey

I remember having it as a kid, any good recipes. My husband is 1 of 10 kids and had it all the time. Help

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  1. We always called it macaroni hotdish (northern plains)
    There are as many variations as cooks.
    Browned hamburger with onion, pepper, some salt.
    Add can of tomatoes (depends on how you like them, crushed, diced, sauce)
    We cooked the macaroni in the dish, not separately, add water accordingly.
    Some like green pepper in it.
    At the end, put some grated yellow cheese on top to melt.

    1. I don't make it often enough but here's the recipe I use. I cook the pasta separately first, al dente then combine everything for the oven. Also..I really never measure anything just do things to taste..but at least this gives you the gist.

      Cook pasta of your choice and drain while doing the following:

      Brown then drain 1lb ground chuck.(or turkey). Add back to the skillet with chopped garlic, Add tomato sauce.or puree from a can. ( Not spaghetti sauce), a couple of tablespoons ( estimated) of olive oil, oregano and fresh basil chopped.

      Spray a baking dish with non flavored cooking spray. Pour in drained pasta. Mix in sliced onions and peppers. Add sauce mixture.
      To this, I also mix in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, usually a cheddar/mozzarella blend. Top the whole thing with additional cheese ..drizzle lightly with olive oil and garnish with more chopped basil.
      Cover and cook at 350 for 40 minutes or so.

      1. My son came home from school recently raving about his lunch. He has a wonderful cafeteria-all homemade food, veggies from the school garden, etc so I was surprised when he said American Chop Suey. My memories of that dish from my school cafeteria were horrible. My mom never made it but many of my friends moms did and I did like theirs but somehow I never thought to make it.

        I googled a few recipes and found this one. If you like this type of dish it's a keeper. He loved it and said it was even better than the schools.

        American Chop Suey

        3 tablespoons olive oil
        1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
        1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
        1 lb 80/20 ground beef
        1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, ground
        2 teaspoons garlic powder
        2 teaspoons onion powder
        1 teaspoon paprika
        2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
        1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
        2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
        2 tablespoons tomato paste
        1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
        1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        1 lb box “Large Elbow” macaroni
        Salt and pepper, to taste
        Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish

        Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper, and cook until just softened, about 8 minutes. Add ground beef, ground sausage, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about five minutes. Add whole tomatoes (and juice), crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them. Wear an apron. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and cinnamon, and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about an hour. While sauce cooks, cook pasta according to package directions, reducing the cooking time by two minutes. Drain pasta, and rinse with cold water. Transfer macaroni to pot of sauce, and stir. Adjust salt and pepper, and cook everything together until flavors combine, about 10 more minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and hot, buttered Sourdough toast.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodieX2

          +1...This is how my mom would make it! I could consume it (along with my dad's pasta fagiole) by the potful, back in my youth. Comforting memories!

            1. re: wyogal

              Okay, the cinnamon in there is interesting. It reminds me of what my Greek buddy does to enhance the bechamel in her pastitio (sp?)...she adds about a tsp of cinnamon and a waft of nutmeg. Neat. Thanks, wyogal.

              1. re: pinehurst

                Kind of similar to the Cincinnati chili phenomenon, I'd guess.

          1. Funny, I know this a goulash! The super basic version is ground beef, mac, a can of tomatoes, ketchup and garlic powder. If I were to make it again it would be more like the versions below (and kind of sounds good right about now).

            1 Reply
            1. re: corneygirl

              That's what we always called it too, coneygirl. It was an inexpensive meal to make back in the day ;)

            2. American Chop Suey recipes in old newspapers:

              San Jose News - May 9, 1932

              The Vancouver Sun - Nov 10, 1933

              The Telegraph-Herald - May 25, 1939

              The Milwaukee Journal - Dec 26, 1943

              The Evening Independent - Oct 3, 1947

              The Spokesman-Review - Mar 6, 1952

              Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Sep 26, 1963

              The Spokesman-Review - May 26, 1966

              1. The links Antilope posted were interesting. I didn't expect so many variations back in the 30s. I used to make American Chop Suey weekly when I was working and too exhausted to research any new recipes. I did not have this dish growing up because my father wouldn't eat "casseroles" but my husband had it growing up and it is a recent offering at the local church/Grange suppers for people who don't want ham. Our version is like the Saveur recipe without any seasonings except salt and pepper, maybe some garlic. I do not add green pepper, cheese or anything spicy. Back in the 60s, I don't think our moms had much of a spice/herb selection on hand. Adding garlic would be getting fancy.

                1. My grandmother served this regularly. Here is the recipe as she had it on the recipe card as best I can decipher. I was too young at the time to know if she had a riff not written on the card:

                  1 lb chop suey meat (this means fatty pork in cubes, like from shoulder)
                  sufficient oil to brown it it
                  ½ cup chopped onion
                  1 cup chopped celery
                  1 T soy sauce
                  chow mein noodles (those crispy, tan packaged things)

                  1. Brown meat in fat. Cover with water. Simmer. Add soy sauce.
                  2. Add veggies and cook slowly. Add more water if needed.
                  3. Thicken liquid with a cornstarch slurry. (cornstarch mixed in a little water in a small dish and then added to the skillet with the pork and then heated, stirring, until it sauce thickens).
                  4. Serve over cooked white rice. Sprinkle chow mein noodles on top.

                  Be aware that La Choy has a little assortment of cans glued together in a vertical stack that a person might have used to make this. The veggies were in the lower can and I think the chow mien was in the top can.

                  It doesn't taste like Grandma used to make if I use real soy sauce. I have to use La Choy.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: saltwater

                    Hence, the "American" in the title.... different from "regular" chop suey.
                    Interesting history

                    1. re: wyogal

                      Oh, also key to my experience with this is Minute Rice (or converted rice). Indeed, very American.

                      1. re: saltwater

                        Yes, chop suey is American. "American" Chop Suey, however, is a macaroni/beef/tomato dish.
                        confusing, eh?