Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chop Suey

I'm having a hard time posting something after my last post. I mean what follows this? I guess life.

So... a topic Trooper would approve of... FOOD.

In my summers in Maine I've often heard talk of a mysterious "chop suey". Having had chop suey in Chinese restaurants, I have often wondered why the "Mainers" had such an affinity for overcooked veggies with noodles.

Then I found that here in Maine, there is AMERICAN chop suey. I heard long ago that all chop suey is an American creation - so I once again assumed we were talking a Chinese-ish dish.

Lo and behold I was sorely mistaken.

There is an entire world of food that has just slipped below my radar. (Much like meatloaf with *gasp* GRAVY? I thought everyone slathered their meatloaf in a ketchupy mixture???)

So, after talking with lots of people about my new found discovery of American Chop suey, I have found that there are many, many different variations of this meal. (Ok, do I sound like a fun person or what? Wanna be my best friend? We can talk about Chop Suey? I sound like a riot, huh?)

I think this might be the REAL American meal.

It uses elbow macaroni and ground beef. Two staples of the average American's diet. (Macaroni salads at picnics anyone? Burgers?) Some people make it with celery and onion, others with bell pepper, onion and mushrooms, some just onion. Some use tomato sauce, others use spaghetti sauce. Some add Velveeta, some mozzarella and others are shocked to hear that cheese is involved. I've heard of people adding different spices to change the "ethnicity" like adding cumin and some hot pepper to make it pseudo Mexican, some throwing in oregano and basil with some Parmesan to be more Italian. Some used canned ingredients, some use fresh.

What it boils down to is that it's as diverse as we are. It's fast and easy. Something else fairly descriptive of us as a Nation. It's also pretty inexpensive to throw together. We here in America like our cheap. Just ask Wal-Mart or the Chinese who have been assembling all of our high quality merch.

So anyway, I used my neighbors recipe for Chop Suey and found that it was delicious. The kids ate every bite off their plate. A winner here. Whatever you put in it.

OK - the recipe, how I made it last night...

In a BIG saute' pan, or dutch oven pan (you can boil your noodles and then transfer to drain and use same pan to cook veggies/meat), saute' in a little butter or olive oil 1/2-1 green bell pepper, 1/2 onion, 1 package cleaned and sliced white button mushrooms (you can also add celery, rainbow bell peppers or canned mushrooms). Saute' until soft.

Then add 1-1 1/2 lbs ground beef (if you use higher fat beef you'll want to drain some grease) and cook mixture until beef is done.

If you didn't do it before, boil elbow mac in separate pan, (I used the larger casserole sized elbow mac) until done.

Add jar of fave spaghetti sauce to meat mixture, turn heat down. Stir well. When sauce warmed up, add mac and mix together.

Dan added mozzarella to his 2nd helping and liked it.

Let me know if you try it, and what variations you use.


Momma said...

You ARE a Mainer! Or, a Maniac, whichever it is. You'll have to share the recipe!

Dori (Aviva's mommy) said...

Anything with cheese sounds yummy to me. Sounds good.

Suzanne said...

Sounds kind of like a goulosh my mom used to make...perhaps I was eating chop suey all along!