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American Chop Suey – Feeding Families On The Cheap

February 17, 2014

Since I’ve been a stay at home mom to a toddler who eats absolutely everything, I’ve been cooking many foods from my own childhood.

Growing up in New Englad I ate a lot of American Chop Suey. It’s a dish where you stretch a pound of meat into a pasta infused meal that can generously feed a family.

It’s really fast, easy and inexpensive to make but most importantly, it’s delicious. Once you’ve mastered American Chop you can very simply modify the recipe to accommodate other ingredients.

It also tastes great reheated so making it in advance for the next day is a great instant dinner solution for a busy mom and leftovers (if there happen to be any) are always taken care of!


1lb lean ground beef

elbow macaroni

1 large onion

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can tomato puree

dried oregano

dried basil


salt OR Knorr rich beef stock pot

grated parmesan or cheddar cheese (optional)

You can also use jarred tomato sauce if  you prefer but there is so much sugar and other crap in jarred sauce that I never buy it. It’s also ridiculously simple to make sauce yourself. 

american chop 1

The first thing you do is chop the onion. The size of the pieces is entirely up to you. I like mine fairly coarse.

Next fry the onions and the meat together, stirring frequently and chopping the mince into fine pieces. At this stage I also like to dump in a Knorr rich beef stock pot because it brings out the meaty flavors and adds the perfect amount of salt to the finished dish. If you do not do this then make sure you salt the water when you boil the pasta.

You’re done frying when all of the water has cooked out of the meat and onions and the onions are soft. If you haven’t used lean mince you’re going to have a lot of fat here that you don’t want in the final dish. to help get rid of the fat you can sop it up with paper towels or spoon it out. It’s really just better to use lean meat to begin with though.

american chop 2

When the meat and onions are cooked you just add in the chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree, the herbs (to taste, I like to go heavy on the oregano) and a pinch of sugar to help counter the acidity in the home made sauce. Taste it and add more herbs/sugar as required.

Stir frequently and heat through.

american chop 3

Stir meat sauce into cooked and drained elbows, which can be boiled at the same time as you’re cooking the sauce and that’s all there is to it. The ratio of pasta to meat is up to you. I usually make enough pasta so that I can comfortably mix everything together in my large soup pan. As you can see, that pound of minced beef goes far and mixes in well enough to be in every bite of pasta.

american chop 4

If you want to be a bit fancy then dump the whole thing into a big baking dish and layer with some grated cheese then bake it in the oven for long enough to melt the cheese.



From → Main Courses, Recipes

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