American Chop Suey

When this showed up in my email, it was called something like “Cafeteria Casserole,” because it was reminiscent of an old school lunch recipe. When I actually started to put it together, I thought it seemed much more like what my friends in New England called American Chop Suey. As a side note, my mom made Chop Suey that was nothing like this,  so this macaroni and cheese version, while most excellent, as it turns out, was a total stranger to me.

Until now.

•8 oz elbow macaroni
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1-1/2 lb meatloaf mix
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 red bell pepper, chopped
•1 medium onion, chopped
•3/4 cup shredded carrots
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 can green chiles, drained
•2 tsp steak seasoning
•1 tsp ground black pepper
•15 oz tomato sauce
•1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp light brown sugar
•1/2 tsp dry mustard
•1-1/2 cup water
•2 cups shredded cheese
•1-1/3 cup bread crumbs
•Chopped parsley

*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.

Heat your oven to 375º and apply cooking spray to a baking dish.

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions, then drain. I like to let the chiles drain over the pasta, so that any additional flavor from the can liquids transfers to the pasta.

Cook the meatloaf mix over medium heat in a large pan, breaking up the meat into small pieces, until cooked through and most pan liquids have been cooked off.

Drain the meat and wipe out the pan.

Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the onion, red pepper, green chiles, and carrot.

Cook, stirring often for about ten minutes, until the veggies are tender.

Stir in the seasonings, brown sugar, tomato sauce, Sherry Peppers, hot sauce, Worcestershire, water, and the drained meat.

Bring to a boil and let simmer for five minutes, until the sauce is thickened a bit.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and pasta and transfer to your prepared baking dish.

Top evenly with the shredded cheese and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve topped with the freshly chopped parsley.

This was really tasty, and was kinda evocative of school lunches back in the day.


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