Saturday, May 21, 2011

Goulash vs. American Chop Suey

Who doesn't love pasta? OK, so I did a little research on "Goulash" or "American Chop Suey" or Macaroni & Beef (as it's know commercially). If you've never heard of it, It's an American pasta dish. What I found out is that the preferred name and recipe varies by region: for example, the name American Chop Suey is most prevalent in New England, which is where I'm from.

Simmering tomatoes, onion & hamburg

I wondered why my family called it Goulash. I phoned mom and asked her and she said that's what her mom called it - OK, so that's cast in stone! So, it is what it is. My husband grew up calling it American Chop Suey, well, he lived near Boston, maybe they were a little fancier than us! LOL!

Add some different types of pasta!

Upon further research, I discovered that it's known as chop suey because it is a sometimes-haphazard hodgepodge of meat and vegetables. The recipe is quite adaptable to taste and available ingredients. Elbow macaroni can be substituted with any pasta of similar size, such as ziti, shells, or rotelle. The onions or green peppers may be omitted, or replaced with other vegetables or mushrooms. While some recipes call for a smooth prepared tomato sauce some cooks prefer to add crushed or diced tomatoes along with tomato paste for a chunkier more intensely flavored dish - which is what I like. Italian herbs and Worcestershire sauce are sometimes used in preparation.

Some favorite ingredients.

However you decide to make it, or whatever you'd like to call it, and keeping with family tradition I'll call it Goulash,  two accompaniments are a must, grated Parmesan cheese and fresh bread for a yummy comforting meal!

Grab a fork and enjoy!

My Goulash Recipe (with an attitude*)
Serves 4

1 pound of lean ground beef, broken up
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
pinch of sea salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper
2-4 shakes of hot sauce ( I use Franks)
1- 14 oz. can of organic diced tomatoes
1- 10 oz. can of Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies
8 ounces of dry pasta - cooked (I used elbows, shells, and orecchiette)
Parmesan cheese

Add olive oil to a large skillett, add chopped onion and soften, add garlic and simmer for another few moments. Add the salt and pepper. Add 2-4 shakes of hot sauce. Add the ground beef and break it up in the skillet. When the hamburg is browned add the organic and Rotel tomatoes. Cook until hot, add the pasta, mix it up, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve!

*If you don't want the "attitude" you may leave out the hot sauce and substitute the Rotel with regular diced tomatoes.


  1. Whatever it's called I like it but haven't made it in awhile. As a New Englander, I'm surprised you don't toss in a little seafood of some sort, although I'm not sure what would work with burger :-).

  2. Oh my goodness...what memories of childhood that brings to mind.

    My Grandparents were Hungarian
    immigrants (Dad's side) and my Grandmother made Hungarian Goulash but I don't remember the pasta part. Although as a little kid I didn't eat very much of anything. (o: Still very fussy.

    Thanks for the walk down my memory lane.

    Happy Saturday.


  3. The original Gulasch (or Goulash) is Hungarian and does not contain pasta but would classically have been eaten with bread or Sauerkraut - the Sauerkraut-variety being a specialty called Szegedine Goulash, named after the Hungarian town of Szegedin, where it presumably comes from.
    It is very spicy and a good winter dish :-)
    I am surprised to see a pasta dish called Goulash, or Chop Suey :-)

  4. I swear I could eat this every day! My mother called it "one dish dinner".
    I even like it cold from the fridge! I will have to try it with rotels.


  5. who cares what it's called... when it looks this good (and no doubt tastes bloody amazing) what does it matter...?

    love to the furry faces x

  6. MMM goulash is tasty. I've never had it with pasta. Only poatoes but this looks like a dish I will cook for dinner soon

  7. hello my friend...this looks so new england to me....i LOVE it...

    and i am making it....looks so great !!!!

    why am i not living in new england?????

    happy to stop by
    p.s. i made the stuffed shells

    sending love,
    kary and teddy

  8. My mother never made this when I was growing up. My Italian father did not like eating his pasta in any other way other than the traditional Italian way. Luckily the school I attended most of my life had nuns that liked to cook. That was the first time I ever had American Chop Suey. I fell in love. They always served it with Vienna bread and butter. OMG it was so delicious. Once I got married I made it all the time. My recipe is very similar to yours except I add a can of Manwich. Great post!!

  9. I grew up on the west coast (Washington) and my mom and family also call it Goulash. My mom never cooks anything spicey so it was very similar to yours only with plain tomatoes. It was always a staple at family potlucks!


  10. I've never made this, but I think my son would love it. I'm gonna have to give it a try! Thanks for sharing. (And that's nice that you are going to keep calling it Goulash because your Mom and her Mom called it that!!)

  11. Hello! Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog - I've often read your comments at Belleau Kitchen so feel very flattered that you've found me.
    Love this post - isn't it interesting how family/community/regional dishes evolve? I've never heard of American chop suey (though I'm familiar with Samoan chop suey!) - but this looks delicious, whatever you want to call it!
    Have a great weekend, Lucy

  12. I grew up in RI and one of our favorite meals that my mother cooked was her American Chop Suey:) It was a lot like yours but there would NEVER be anything spicy in it...She also made a ground meat dish that she called was rather like Sloppy Joes but she always served it on mashed potatoes:) Thanks for bringing back some fun culinary memories!

  13. In Sweden, not sure what they call it but they use salmon instead of beef.. I don't like salmon so I didn't eat it. We always called it Goulash.. IT was a favorite in our family.
    Have a Tiggeriffic Day..Love your Ocean...

  14. Whatever it's called it sounds delicious! A simple but very satisfying meal.

  15. Never heard it called those names,but often made this (hamburger dinner)for my kids when they were growing up.

  16. Our family lived in northern New York State and my mom made bushels of this stuff when we were growing up! We called it Goulash ... my Dad called it 'Slum Gullion' - go figure!

  17. Interesting post. I'm Hungarian, and Hungarian goulash is basically beef chunks sauteed in a paprikash-tomato gravy and served over noodles. I think American goulash is a spin-off of this.

  18. I used to make a similar dish minus the hot sauce. we loved it. i love to cook with rotel tomatoes as I like the spice now in my 'old age' Funny how our taste change with age.
    Re your comment on my blog. check may 18 entry for pics.
    hugs mary

  19. This is all so interesting!
    My dish called goulash is similar to Judy's Hungarian one, with strips of beef in a rich sauce served with thick noodles or vegetables.
    We dont have a chop suey dish like this, ours called that would be a chinese dish with chinese noodles etc.
    The only similar dish I make would be a bolognese type meat sauce to eat with pasta, or with pasta stirred in, but I would usually add stock or wine too!
    All that said, this looks a lovely tasty comforting traditional American supper dish which i shall definitely try, so thanks for sharing!
    Thanks for your good wishes for Bella!
    Have great day Mary, and love to Duke!
    Gill xx

  20. Interesting 'names' for similar dishes. We call it a 'Macaroni Casserole' and the Goulash we call 'Hash'. I have never heard of it as American Chop Suey.....maybe because I live in Canada! lol
    Thanks for 'dropping by' yesterday. Oh yeah, that Banana Bread looks good too.....a little different from my Mom's....I will try it out!

  21. That goulash is great. Goulash is great anyway. Even saying goulash is great. :) ~ xox Alexandra

  22. goulash with attitude sounds much cooler than american chop suey with attitude. i call it american chop suey or to be radical, american chop.

    thank you for the nice comment on my blog.


  23. I've never heard of "American Chop
    Suey" and I always thought that goulash was a Hungarian dish of some sort. Must be a regional dish for you? Whatever you guys are calling it, this easy peasy macaroni dish sounds good. :-)
    Sorry I haven't been visiting- life has been very busy here. ~ Sue

  24. I love goulash and this looks yummy. I don't see a link back to my blog in your post. I would appreciate one being added.

  25. yummie...mmmm...want to eat them;)


    Don't bother to pass by anytime..:)

  26. I've never had it but I know my family would love it, thanks for the recipe.

  27. We had this dish often when we were first married. The only thing I did differently was to add a small can of drained, canned mushrooms. We called it goulash. Thanks for a pleasant stroll down memory lane. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  28. Looks so delish Mary.
    Kary wanted me to let you know her computer is down with a virus and she won't be able to write you for a few days at least. She feels so cut off!

  29. I've never heard it called Chop Suey- we just called it "That Macaroni and Beef Thing." My daughter in law calls it goulash. :) Whatever you call it though, I'll bet it's delicious! :)

  30. Another YUMMY recipe. Its looks really good!

  31. This looks yummy, and dippin' bread to boot! I have been excited about the arrival of grilling weather, but after the small tornado experience here in CA yesterday, maybe it's back to comfort food we go!

    I wanted to let you know that I passed the Versatile Blogger Award on to you! Congrats!

  32. Growing up in Vermont, with a father from Maine, we called it Slumgullion ( and still do). It's fun to say too!

  33. Growing up in New England in the 50s with old yankees as parents, my mother always called it Hungarian Goulash, everyone else of course called it American Chop
    Whatever you call it, I still long for it during long cold winters when all you want is comfort food!

  34. Always called it chop suey. (American). Hamburg,onion,green peppers, garlic powder, pepper (no salt). Stewed tomatoes any type of pasta. Springle Parmesan cheese over when served. Evan taste better next day heated in microwave.


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