FF – I heart American Chop Suey

When suppertime rolled around last night, I got a hankerin’ for some American Chop Suey. Usually, the eldest does the honors, since she likes to spice it a particular way. However, she was busy filming her latest video, so I ended up with the task. As I was prepping, and actually having trouble remembering exactly how to, it occurred to me that somewhere during the past few years, I’d lost my cooking mojo.

When I finished, I had a revelation. Standing in the kitchen, a few days away from officially being declared one hundred percent healed from my recent surgery, I thought to myself, “People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer…”


I even felt compelled to take a picture of the finished product. Granted, it won’t make the cover of any foodie magazine, but I think it’s a decent representation –

American Chop Suey

Fair warning – now that I’m rediscovering my mojo, expect more of my favorite recipes for future Fandom Fridays. *grin*

Before I get to the actual making of the meal, I wanted to share this tidbit I found when researching why this dish is called, “chop suey” from Yankee Magazine

So what’s with the chop suey in American Chop Suey? According to The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, “chop suey” is a culinary phrase with Chinese origins, and dates back (in print, at least) to the late 1800’s. It’s thought to be a transcription of “tsa tsui,” which is Mandarin for “a little of this and that.” In time, “chop suey” became a dish containing a loose assortment of bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, celery, soy sauce, and either pork or chicken, which went on to become one of those Chinese-American dishes popular in Chinese restaurants stateside, but likely unfamiliar to a native Chinese diner. Later, another dish of muddled, cobbled ingredients and origins (this time Italian-American) would also carry the “chop suey” name.

~ from American Chop Suey Casserole by Aimee Seavey

This is one of the few recipes I don’t have in my actual recipe box (or, for that matter, on my virtual one either). It’s so basic that I just never got around to committing it to pen and paper. There are tons of variations on it (most notably – we used ground turkey, but traditionally it’s made with hamburger), but here is the current incarnation that is popular with our household.


American Chop Suey

1 sweet onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 pound ground turkey
Spices (salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley)
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 24oz can spaghetti sauce
1 14 oz can diced tomato
Shredded or Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large pot (I use my cast iron dutch oven), add the onion and pepper (with a small amount of butter or olive oil) and sautée until soft. Add the turkey and spices, and cook on medium heat until the meat is no longer pink.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the elbows according to package instructions, boiling for the least amount of time (usually about 9 minutes), then drain. When the meat is cooked, add the sauce and diced tomato, then stir in the pasta. Cover and heat for about ten minutes. Serve, and top with cheese if desired.

Feel free to shout out in the comment section below with questions, or with your favorite version of this New England comfort food.

4 thoughts on “FF – I heart American Chop Suey

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  1. I found this interesting. Up here in Canada I have never heard the term American Chop Suey. We just call it macaroni and meat. 🙂
    But it does make sense when you consider the meaning of the word Chop Suey. Might have to give an old standard a new name!

    1. Yep, I’d wondered for years how the heck Chop Suey could apply. When I’d stumbled across the meaning, a light bulb went off, and it made such sense. 🙂

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