Recipe: American chop suey is beloved comfort food served by families all over the country

American chop suey
American chop sueySally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

Serves 6

American chop suey is the quirky New England name of this beloved comfort food that combines macaroni or curly pasta, ground beef, bell peppers, and onions and a hearty tomato sauce. It isn’t remotely related to any Chinese-American dish of any sort. American chop suey is a hodgepodge of familiar ingredients quickly sautéed, mixed with pasta, and baked. Versions are served for family meals all over the country. Adjust the spices and depending on where you live, you’ll find Beefaroni (canned or freshly made), American goulash, beef and mac, chili mac, Johnny Marzetti, and more. Whatever the name, the spirit of the dish remains the same. It can be served right out of the pot, but who can resist it in a casserole with a blanket of melted cheese?. Your kids will love it, and so will everyone else at the family table.


Vegetable oil (for the dish)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1pound elbow macaroni, or
other tubular pasta such as
2tablespoons olive oil
1large onion, coarsely chopped
1each green and yellow bell
pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice
2cloves garlic, finely chopped
2teaspoons dried oregano
½teaspoon crushed red pepper
1pound ground beef
1can (15 ounces) diced
1can (28 ounces) whole, peeled tomatoes, pureed until smooth in a blender
2tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
cups grated cheddar
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, or until it is tender but still has some bite. Drain but do not rinse; return the pasta to the pot.

3. In a large, deep skillet over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Stir in the oregano and crushed red pepper.

4. Add the beef in heaping tablespoon-size pieces to the skillet. With a fork or a potato masher, break up the meat until it is crumbly. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink. It will not be browned.

5. Add the diced tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, and Worcestershire to the skillet. Bring to a simmer.

6. Carefully tip the meat mixture into the pasta and stir well. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.


7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the sauce is bubbling at the edges. Sprinkle with parsley. Sally Pasley Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally.p.vargas@gmail.com.