1 pound lean ground beef (93%)
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can petite-diced tomato (14.5-ounce)
2 cans hot water (14.5-ounce)
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
8 ounces cooked elbow macaroni or small shells
1 can of peas (14.5 ounce), lightly drained


1. Heat a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Add the ground meat, onions and garlic and sauté until cooked through. Drain the grease if desired. (For an easy way to drain the grease, scrunch up some paper towels and place them in the pan with the meat. Using tongs, soak up the grease by moving the paper towels around the bottom of the pan. Remove the paper towels from the pot with the tongs and discard them. 
3. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Stir in the tomatoes, water, salt, pepper and parsley to the pot and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add cooked pasta and stir.
6. Add canned peas. Stir again.
7. Cover and simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
8. Ladle into warm bowls and serve.

Enjoy! Recipe coutesy of Helene Spoto, Helene's Custom Cuisine, 2011.

What comes to mind when you hear, "Let's have American Chop Suey for dinner tonight?" Well, for someone like me who was born and raised near Philadelphia, I start thinking about Chinese food. Maybe it's an Americanized version of chop suey that may not be as spicy with less ginger, garlic and chili paste, like Tex-Mex or Italian-American cuisine. That would make sense, right? Wrong. Any self-respecting New Englander knows that American Chop Suey has absolutely nothing to do with Chinese food. It's ground beef ("hamburg"), macaroni, tomato sauce and peas. Did I miss something? As it turns out, I was missing something delicious.

Known in other parts of the country as beef and macaroni or even beef goulash, this recipe is an old family favorite and a five star comfort food. My mother-in-law, Irene's version uses peas while others use green beans or bell peppers. Some recipes use rice in place of macaroni while still others insist that cheese be added. This New England classic has endless variations and is only limited by a cook’s imagination. As I was preparing for the how-to cooking video for this recipe, I asked friends to share their stories and memories about it. Although they loved reminiscing about eating it as a child and are now serving it to their own kids, asking them for specifics about ingredients was met with some resistance. Apparently, some family recipes are closely guarded secrets and not shared casually in open conversation. I was more likely to be pulled aside (if we were good enough friends) and told in a whisper while a hand was cupped around my ear.

American Chop Suey has been a staple in my home for many years. As with all of my recipes, this one has evolved over time to fit my busy and healthier lifestyle. It's quick and easy to prepare, however, even though it's lighter in fat and calories, it's loaded with flavor. The best part is I'm willing to share my recipe with you and no one has to get hurt.

Okay, I'll admit it. I will never understand why this wonderful dish is called American Chop Suey. However, a quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet seems fitting. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

This video was filmed in the Kitchen Showroom at Baron's Major Brands Appliances, Salem, NH.

American Chop Suey
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