American Chop Suey is a one pot meal that brings the whole kitchen together. Grab leftover ingredients from all around your kitchen and throw them into a Dutch oven to simmer in sauce for an easy meal adults and kids can’t get enough of!
American Chop Suey is also called Goulash to those who live outside of New England. But being a Main-ah born and raised, I was raised calling this dish American Chop Suey. There really is very little difference between this dish and elbow macaroni with meat sauce.
There are a few key elements to this dish that make it what it is though. American Chop Suey is known for elbow macaroni, ground beef or pork, tomatoes, and a sautéed vegetable. It’s meant to be a very easy and versatile dish for an over-tired mom with things around the kitchen and pantry that need used up. It’s comfort food at its finest.
This main meal was a go-to in my house growing up and frequented nearly all family gettogethers. It feeds a crowd and isn’t heavy in any particular flavor, which makes it really easy to customize and appeal to all family members.
What Ingredients are in American Chop Suey?
Here is a list of the basic ingredients, but feel free to mix it up with what you have on hand! That is both the beauty and purpose of this dish.
- Peppers and Onions
- Ground Meat – typically burger but could be pork, chicken, or turkey
- Tomatoes – tomato paste, tomato sauce, and canned tomatoes are all frequently added
- Herbs and Spices – your typical Italian seasonings are included but you could switch them out for other more Mexican flavors to create more of an Enchilada Mac or Chili Mac.
- Elbow Macaroni – growing up the shape sometimes changed and every now and then it was rice instead of pasta, but most kid-friendly households will tell you elbow macaroni is where it’s at!
- Toppings – CHEESE! If your house loves cheese, anything from American slices, Parmesan, or cheddar will work fantastic on this dish. Adults typically love a dash of hot sauce and fresh parsley.
How to Make American Chop Suey
The great thing about using cast iron, is making this truly a one-pot meal. I start with selecting my largest enameled cast iron Dutch oven. That would be my Marquette 6 quart. Then cook a pound of elbow macaroni according to the package instructions. When I drain it, I just leave it in a collander to the side while assembling the rest.
Next I saute the onions and peppers in a Tablespoon of both olive oil and butter. Butter gives it flavor while the olive oil brings up the smoke point. After about 5 minutes sauting the vegetables, I add the ground meat. That gets cooked and drained as needed.
Next I add a bit of tomato paste to really add a rich, earthy taste to the dish. Then I add garlic and herb canned diced tomatoes with their juice. There’s also a canned tomato that has red pepper flakes in it that is really good for those that don’t mind a little heat! Then, I add just a touch of pasta or pizza sauce to thicken. More can be added at the end.
The herbs are also added to the Dutch oven and it all simmers for about 10 minutes before adding the cooked macaroni. Then it’s all stirred together and more sauce is added depending on the desired consistency. I keep mine a little less saucy than the typical ‘pasta and sauce’ or Bolognese ratio. Top with cheese and fresh herbs before serving.
How to store leftovers
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for about 5 days refrigerated.
You can also pour this into an aluminum pan and top with cheese, cover with tinfoil and freeze for about 3 months. The pasta may be a bit mushier than when originally cooked, but it’s great to have this for a last minute dinner. Thaw the night before if possible and reheat in the oven at 350F with a layer of fresh sauce until warm.
More One-Pot Meals
American Chop Suey
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 yellow onion medium dice
- 1 green pepper medium dice
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes with garlic, with juice
- 1 cup pasta sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese optional
- 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley optional
- Cook the macaroni according to package instructions in the Dutch oven. Drain and set aside in colander.
- Sauté the onion and pepper in olive oil and butter. When tender, add the ground beef and cook through. Drain excess grease as needed.
- Add the tomato paste and cook about 1 minute before adding the canned tomatoes with juice and pasta sauce.
- Add the seasonings, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes before adding cooked pasta. Toss well to combine before serving.