American Chop Suey! (Serves 4)
Only hours to go until we hear the election results and I, for one, am looking forward to the end of the campaigns and never-ending attack advertisements.
I was a political science major in college and have a good understanding of the reasons underlying peoples’ voting choices. So I was not surprised by a recent article in a publication of Science Daily (Oct. 18, 2012) which wrote “… The 2012 presidential campaign has provided endless fodder for social media, water cooler conversation and "Saturday Night Live" spoofs. But, in the end, Americans going to the polls generally pull the lever based on one thing: their gut feelings [emphasis added], says presidential politics expert Larry Butler of Rowan University.”
To my mind, “gut” means stomach, and satisfying it at this time of year with holidays around the corner, means comfort food right now that is easy to prepare. With all the politics, I finally just thought “suey” with all of the political rhetoric, and this easy, easy, easy dish came to mind as a simple meal to tide us over until the holiday preps go to full-blown mode and take over every available waking moment.
It’s a “go-to” dish that was always called “American Chop Suey” as I grew up, but most people probably know it as “goulash,” which may also be an appropriate name in this political frenzy!!! I’m sure that everyone has personal variations but this is my fave and is good, made in advance, with no oven involved!
Ingredients (and Asides)
1.5 lb. hamburger (I like 87 percent lean, but often use whatever is on sale, but rarely under 85 percent fat)
1/2 chopped onion (I like Vidalias or reds because they are a little sweeter)
1 chopped green pepper (or 2, if you like)
There are distinctions in the cooking world about chopping and mincing. But just cut the onion and pepper according to how big you want the pieces in your final dish. Mine are about a half-inch chop…or whatever!
Oil to coat your skillet
2 cloves chopped garlic (or ideally, roasted garlic to taste…take a whole head and remove the outside paper and cut in half. Place it in some foil and drizzle with oil and wrap up and cook for about 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees. A toaster oven is great for this! When soft, and cooled a bit, squeeze the cloves from the remaining skins. This can all be done ahead or you can skip it and just use raw garlic for a stronger taste.)
Most of a 1 lb. box of dried short pasta of your choice (I grew up with macaroni but now prefer either penne rigate or farfalle)
A couple cans of Campbell’s tomato soup
Some milk (told you this is easy!) or a tomato sauce of your choice
(I developed my own tomato sauce which involves a lot of time and reductions but that’s a different story for a different day!)
Dried herbs (opt)
Parmesan cheese (the real stuff! Once you buy some, you’ll forget the cost because it’s just so good!)
Heat oil in your skillet and add the green pepper and let it soften and then add the onion and let it “sweat” until also softened.
Add the garlic, if raw, and cook with the onions and peppers but be sure to watch that it doesn’t burn and become bitter.
When cooked, drain on a paper towel-lined sieve to reduce fat, and put aside.
Cook the hamburger until cooked through and drain also. Set aside.
Cook your preferred pasta according to box directions and drain. Do not rinse.
Combine the pasta, hamburger, garlic (either the sauteed or roasted), onions, and peppers in your skillet and add the tomato soup or your favorite tomato/marinara sauce and heat up. Add fresh herbs (if you have them) or dried herbs of your choice, and top with cheese.
Enjoy! …and remember to vote!