Back in the day, there was a popular spaghetti based cassserole – Johnny Mazetti Spaghetti – that was supposedly popular in the American community in Panama as well as throughout the Midwest. It is quite good, actually, and I have made it several times; but, sometimes, you mebbe want you some Johnny Mazetti with a little less fuss.

Enter my Aunt Buzz, and her Zanzetti, which I have been eating since long before I ever discovered Johnny Mazzetti and his tasty spaghetti casserole.

Zanzetti, you see, starts with some ground meat (I use a blend of beef and pork), a box of Kraft Dinner, and a can of tomato soup.

After those basics, feel free, as I do, to, ermmm… “gorp it up” as my Aunt would usually accuse me; but then, her concept of spice and mine were vastly different.

•1 tbsp olive oil
•1-1/2 lb ground beef/pork
•1 sweet onion, diced
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
•1 box Kraft dinner
•1/4 cup (4 tbsp) butter
•1/4 cup milk
•1 can tomato soup

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Warm the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat, then add the ground meat, onion, and garlic.

Cook, breaking up the meat, until it is cooked through and the onion is tender. Stir in the Sherry Peppers Sauce, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, black pepper, Aleppo pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Note: feel free to swap out, adjust the seasonings to your tastes. I didn’t use them this time, but sliced black olives work a treat in this, too.

Transfer to a colander to drain, then allow the pan to cool just a bit, then fill with water.

Bring the water to a boil, then add the macaroni.

Cook, stirring a bit to keep the pasta from clumping, for nine minutes, then drain.

Return the macaroni to the pot, along with the butter, cheese packet, and milk. Cover and allow the butter to melt, then stir to combine before adding the tomato soup and the meat mixture.

Stir again over low heat to warm through and serve.

I like mine with a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley and black pepper.

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