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One-Pot American Chop Suey

A time-tested American classic!

Many of us have fond childhood memories of this classic comfort food, though you may know it as American goulash, or even Johnny Marzetti. In any case, it’s generally a dish made up of ground beef and macaroni in a delicious tomato-based sauce and if you know it as ‘chop suey,’ there’s a fair chance you hail from the New England, where that name is normally used. While it has very little resemblance to the chop suey of Chinese cuisine, it’s a well-loved and comforting casserole for good reason, and our version comes together in just one pot.

While you can find baked versions of this dish, you can think of this as more of a stovetop casserole, akin to chili mac. And with this particular version, you’re only going to have one pot to wash.

You start by seasoning and browning some ground beef…

… to which you add some onion, carrot, and green bell pepper. You’ll find different combinations of veggies in American Chop Suey, but that trio is the standard we stand by.

The sauce is a combination of various canned tomatoes and some Worcestershire sauce and in this case, the macaroni cooks right in that liquid so it plumps up with all that tomato flavor.

Our version includes a dash of hot sauce, which livens things up a bit. Some like to grate some parm over the finished dish, but historically there was no cheese involved at all. It’s one of those time-tested dishes that’s evolved through the years, but no matter how much it changes, comfort and deliciousness remain at the root of it.

One-Pot American Chop Suey

Serves 6-8; 5 minutes prep, 40 minutes cook time

Ingredients
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preparation
  1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and brown until cooked through.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and cook 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, hot sauce, 1 2/3 cup water, and Italian seasoning. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add macaroni, cover again, and let simmer until tender, about 20 minutes more.
  6. Season to taste and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from A Simple Pantry.