Overthinking a plate of American Chop Suey
October 4, 2014 7:10 PM   Subscribe

American Chop Suey (aka Goulash) gets the Food Lab treatment from MeFi favorite J. Kenji López-Alt. (American Chop Suey was the subject of two recent questions on The Green.)
posted by Room 641-A (218 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
WAKE UP
GRAB SOME BEEF AND MAKE A LITTLE BAKE-UP
ADD SOME GARLIC AND SOME ONIONS AND SHAKE-UP
WHY'D YOU USE THE PASTE OF A TOMATO
(YOU WANTED TO!)

Alt-metal flashbacks are the worst musical flashbacks.
posted by delfin at 7:22 PM on October 4, 2014 [86 favorites]


I think I would much rather eat real goulash with absurd amounts of paprika and properly braised meat. I'm not hugely enthused by dressed up hamburger helper.

Sorry, I'm a snob.
posted by Ferreous at 7:26 PM on October 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'd never heard of that dish until I happened to spot the October AskMe, and a number of the recipes weren't exactly enticing. The Food Lab version looks like something a couple of dads would make on a Boy Scout camping trip while sneaking sips out of a flask -- the kind of food that tastes good because it is cold and raining and you are hungry and your tent leaks, rather than because the food is actually good.

I'm not hugely enthused by dressed up hamburger helper.

Ooh, I feel the burn -- but that is exactly what it looks like. Maybe you had to grow up eating it?
posted by Dip Flash at 7:29 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Comeback? Roche Bros. never stopped selling it!
posted by adamg at 7:31 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Sorry, I'm a snob.

I AM THE ANTIMATTER VERSION OF THIS AND I AM HUGELY DELIGHTED BY THIS POST AND AM STRAIGHT-UP DELIGHTED BY THIS FOCUS ON OUR GLORIOUS COUNTRY'S NASCENT FUMBLING HELL CUISINE
posted by Greg Nog at 7:34 PM on October 4, 2014 [85 favorites]


The first time I saw American Chop Suey on the dining hall menu at college I couldn't puzzle out what it might be. The real thing was much less exciting than my imagination.

I really can't imagine ever wanting to make it, even a better-quality version. (Although undrained 80-20 chuck might not qualify as better, honestly.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:38 PM on October 4, 2014


I had never heard the term American Chop Suey until moving to New England. But my grandmother used to make almost the exact same thing and called it Supper in a Dish. Did she make this name up, or was American Chop Suey actually called this in the Philadelphia area? (I see a couple of recipes online called Supper in a Dish, but they are definitely not the same thing.)
posted by dayintoday at 7:53 PM on October 4, 2014


This phenomenon is replicated in other countries! Many Australians of my age and older are familiar with an abomination known as 'chow mein' which is really just mince (ground beef) with cabbage, celery, onion, chicken noodle soup mix and curry powder. I was in my 20s still giving chow mein on Chinese restaurant menus the side eye before learning that outside Anglo-Aus economy cookbook hell, chow mein is a tasty noodle dish. I feel terrible that we slurred an innocent dish in this way.

Like American chop suey, it is deeply divisive. From the article: inspiring nostalgia and comfort in some, and queasiness in others. I have a feeling my sister carried the torch and made yobbo-chow mein when her kids were younger. I remember hating the dish as a child. I would have traded it for American chop suey in a heartbeat. Come on, that stuff is covered with cheese... how bad can it be?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:57 PM on October 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'd never heard of American Chop Suey until I moved to Boston. It boggled my mind - not only was it completely unlike chop suey (which is itself an Americanized and outdated-seeming dish), but I'd always assumed beefy noodly casseroles were a Midwestern thing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:00 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


OUR GLORIOUS COUNTRY'S NASCENT FUMBLING HELL CUISINE

20th century US adaptations of foreign dishes are the Charlie Brown Christmas trees of cuisine: homely, bumbling funhouse mirror reflections of the real thing that only people who are dead inside can't see the charm of.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:13 PM on October 4, 2014 [42 favorites]


I think I would much rather eat real goulash with absurd amounts of paprika and properly braised meat. I'm not hugely enthused by dressed up hamburger helper.

Sorry, I'm a snob.


It's funny, because I grew up eating all kinds of stuff like good European cheese, good bread from Jewish bakeries, and even real actual goulash, simply because my parents weren't American, and to me this type of food (Hamburger Helper and Kraft Mac and Cheese included) is comforting because as much as I now appreciate being exposed to those foods as a kid, all I ever really wanted then was to have normal peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other lunches kids would want to trade for. A crusty baguette with fine cheese is great, but I like a good old grilled cheese sandwich on white bread with American cheese just as much.

But as far as this particular dish, I followed both the other questions and I had no idea this was like a beefaroni recipe. Until I saw this article I had no idea what people were describing. Kind of like an elephant made of American Chop Suey.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:25 PM on October 4, 2014 [24 favorites]


20th century US adaptations of foreign dishes are the Charlie Brown Christmas trees of cuisine: homely, bumbling funhouse mirror reflections of the real thing

See also: my fervent love of Taco Bell
posted by Greg Nog at 8:27 PM on October 4, 2014 [20 favorites]


When I was growing up we called this "garbage stew", mostly because whatever was in it was going to end up in the garbage soon. Now I call it "homemade hamburger helper" (which my husband never ate as a kid, so mine is the only such thing he's ever eaten).

Don't other countries have a tradition of one pot meals made mostly of starch? It can't be only us.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:27 PM on October 4, 2014


"Goulash" has a secondary meaning of "a surprising mixture". I'm pretty sure I've come across this in general use, but I know it persists in Contract Bridge. I think the term "Irish Stew" can be used in a similar way.

Real goulash, of course, is a very elegant and stylish dish, indeed, and comes very nice in Mindy's, what with the chef being personally somewhat Hungarian himself.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:38 PM on October 4, 2014


the kind of food that tastes good because it is cold and raining and you are hungry and your tent leaks, rather than because the food is actually good.

To some extent, that nails it. I mean, it isn't bad - it's pasta, tomato, and ground beef. It isn't exciting, but as long as you drain the ground beef (oops early cooking) it's edible. Kids generally like it - it's bland in the same way mac and cheese or chicken fingers are. Goulash (my family uses a different name that makes no sense and even we can't trace) is what the school lunch menu called it growing up in suburban VT. There it is simply hamburger, elbow macaroni, tomato sauce, onion, salt, and pepper.

My mother often made this dish on Halloween - it was warm (Halloween in VT is BRISK) and filling and reheated well. I don't remember any complaints about it, first time around or as leftovers. It's become my own little tradition to make in late October, usually the same night that I carve a pumpkin and use the still warm oven to roast the pumpkin seeds.
posted by maryr at 8:42 PM on October 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


I have never ever heard of American Chop Suey. However, there's a family recipe (apparently acquired by my grandmother in the 60s from some neighbor at the time) for a dish called "Panda" that sounds really similar. We usually make it with egg noodles, and a mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream is used instead of the fancier cheeses listed here, but it's otherwise really similar.
posted by Peregrine Pickle at 8:46 PM on October 4, 2014


Look, I'm an eighties mom, I've been all day down the shoulderpad mines, you're going to eat this food with wildly incorrect geo-cultural nicknames and enjoy it.
posted by angerbot at 8:52 PM on October 4, 2014 [93 favorites]


Not cooking the ground beef separately and draining off the grease seems to me to be the biggest problem with this recipe, aside from the name.
posted by smcameron at 8:55 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wow, I dot think I've ever had this. By some quirk of fate, my mother's next door neighbor when she was a child was a nice Hungarian lady who enjoyed teaching my mom how to cook. The only goulash I've ever known is the Hungarian sort.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:20 PM on October 4, 2014


BTW, if anyone's interested in the 1916 Manual for Army Cooks mentioned in the link, it's available online.
posted by asterix at 9:28 PM on October 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


Was recently trying to explain to my mother that in my memory it seems like we only had five rotating meals when I was in grade school: this (in our case this equaled ground beef, gross chunks of canned tomatoes, elbow macaroni and occasionally some velveeta was thrown in), meatloaf, and all things shake n bake. My mother swears we did not eat shake n bake that often but I swear to you I can remember thinking, "aww fuck, shake n bake pork chops AGAIN" at age 6.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:33 PM on October 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Don't other countries have a tradition of one pot meals made mostly of starch? It can't be only us.

There's a Beth Hensperger Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking recipe that sounds a lot like this only IIRC the sauce has hot italian sausage chunks instead of ground beef and is put over/mixed with white rice (surprisingly delicious in that "it's cold and dark out and this is comforting" way, and I was skeptical), and she intros it saying "this is that sort of comfy home cooking dish Americans love, but when I described that kind of thing to a French pal she exclaimed "oh we do that too and I love it, except we use riz et tomates!"" I'll post it tomorrow if I remember; it's just cold enough here finally today for it, yum (husband exclaimed this afternoon "ooh, it smells like fall").

Those AskMes had me perplexed initially because of the variety of headscratching nomenclature, where I almost wondered if Rochester/upstate NY-style "hot sauce" (ground beef, onion, clove; used to top the skinny charred lakeside burgers) was a relative.
posted by ifjuly at 9:37 PM on October 4, 2014


Goulash is a certain term that implies tomato, ground beef and noodle. I understand the difference, but here in Minnesota that's hotdish. AND I FUCKING LOVE HOTDISH.
posted by sanka at 9:50 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Family is from New England. I was raised in the South. I was raised on American Chop Suey (my mom also called it "whatsit" from time to time). None of my classmates knew what it was. I attributed that to the fact that we were poor. Go to school in Boston and find out they all know Chop Suey. Brain sorta broke.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:02 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why people would still make this after the invention of Greasy Honky Pie.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:07 PM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I had never heard this called American Chop Suey. We never really ate a dish like this in my house growing up, but for the last year or so I've made something similar I saw in Cook's Country Magazine called Sausage and Mushroom Skillet Penne.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:08 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have never encountered this kind of noddle based ground meat dish described and assumed everyone in the AskMe was lying.

( oh god this is how people find out they're Cylons right?)
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 PM on October 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


Are you hearing a lot of spectral Hendrix? Then yes- cylon
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:18 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


You can't mention Greasy Honky Pie.and not link to it

There was some at the NYC potluck meetup.
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've never had a hot dish, or this "goulash" or whatist or surprise supper. I feel like I'm missing out on something really American.

We did have "tetrazzini" which was basically any and all scraps in the fridge, cooked to let the juices out then layered into a baking pan with pasta and cheese and set to congeal into a suspension of sorts.
posted by The Whelk at 10:23 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


The best part about it was you could eat it cold so it could be lunch for three people the next day.
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 PM on October 4, 2014


I've never had this or heard of it before and my mother makes fun of me when I make casseroles; they were not her thing at all. But that might be a result of Californian parents and a New Mexican upbringing.
posted by NoraReed at 10:35 PM on October 4, 2014


I have been accused of being a cylon before, though, so that might not be a useful data point.
posted by NoraReed at 10:36 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


We did have "tetrazzini" which was basically any and all scraps in the fridge

I'll be diplomatic here, my mother-in-law isn't the world's best cook. Consequently, my wife craves comfort food. I'm a native New Yorker, so a Minnesotaian might be a better primary source, but that's a comfort food staple, and a good 'hot dish' example.
Turkey Tetrazzini

Ingredients

1 can (26 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups cubed cooked chicken or cooked turkey
1 jar (about 4.5 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 of a 1-pound package spaghetti, cooked according to package directions (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

1 Stir the soup, milk, Parmesan cheese, and onion powder in a large bowl. Add the chicken, mushrooms and spaghetti and toss to coat. Spoon the chicken mixture into a 3-quart shallow baking dish.

2 Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl with a fork and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the chicken mixture. ( this is the magical part )

3 Bake at 400°F. for 25 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
posted by mikelieman at 10:39 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


My parents and I would make this in Southern California in the 90s. We made it with soy or TVP ground "beef", jarred marinara, onions and garlic and elbow macaroni. Served with sourdough toast and eaten while watching Seinfeld and Friends. We called it goulash.
posted by kittensofthenight at 10:45 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh that's very close to what I remember! So maybe I have had hot dish, although we didn't use bread crumbs but that's mostly it. Like you learned the rules, peas and tomato no, cooked peppers and mushrooms yes.

The one thing your recipie is missing is the whole mashed head of garlic put into the cheddar cheese roux cause everything is better with garlic.
posted by The Whelk at 10:45 PM on October 4, 2014


We call it Whore Pasta. My one friend wgo makes it, she calls it like hamburger-macaroni casserole. We called it her "tarted-up Mac n cheese" at first but it was obviously a very short road to it becoming Whore Pasta. It suits.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:48 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]




I think we had the distant cousin of this in New Zealand. Not that any of the ingredients were the same, but it too was a quick cheap comfort meal made by opening a bunch of tins and throwing the contents in a pot.

Take cheap sausages, brown them in a pan, maybe cut them up into chunks if you are fancy.
Add tin or two of baked beans, tin or two of tomatoes.
Serve the whole mess over rice, or straight in bowls like a stew if you are middle class enough that you don't need to stretch the sausages further.

I don't think it even had a name, but it was a staple in my childhood and again in cheap student flats. I still make it sometimes when it's cold and rainy and I'm feeling nostalgic.
posted by lollusc at 10:57 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh and cheese. You can put grated cheese on top if you are rich. And cheap curry powder in it if you want to be "ethnic"
posted by lollusc at 10:58 PM on October 4, 2014


This is the first that I've heard of it. Isn't just chop suey American chop suey?
posted by gyc at 10:59 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Many Australians of my age and older are familiar with an abomination known as 'chow mein' which is really just mince (ground beef) with cabbage, celery, onion, chicken noodle soup mix and curry powder.

Abomination? It's deeply savoury, filling, nourishing, appeals to a wide range of palates, and is inexpensive. Prepared well - decent ground chuck; fresh wombok, added in stages (firmer white parts first, frilly bright greens right at the end); a decent curry powder; served perhaps in crisp green lettuce cups, it's a delight: glossy, saffron-gold and green, crisp and moist, light yet substantial.

You'll be lamenting that footy pies aren't filled with boeuf bourguignon next.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:16 PM on October 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Thanks - bookmarked for trying out after we get over this ridiculous hot spell we're sweating through right now. I like the idea of soaking the pasta in hot water to soften it before finishing cooking it in the sauce - somehow that seems a lot easier than boiling it separately and adding it at the end.

It's kind of fun to reverse-engineer the popular convenience foods we loved as kids, like Kraft mac'n'cheese, Hamburger Helper, etc. Trying to reconstruct the original dishes these were based on takes a little persistence (there are a lot of bad recipes that were dumbed down to approach the ease of convenience foods), but you know when you've struck gold. There's a reason why the food industry chose certain dishes to prepackage for busy moms - they appeal to picky eaters, they're cheap and filling, and they're good as leftovers. Home-made or diner chow, they were comfort food 100 years ago, and they're still comforting even if you don't enjoy the packaged versions. I'm always on the lookout for recipes that create the Platonic ideal of these nostalgic favorites, and when they're good they're really really good.

Because I love you guys: for macaroni & cheese see Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe, and for sentimental New Yorkers of a certain age, baked beans like they served at the Automat are yours in Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook.
posted by Quietgal at 11:36 PM on October 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, does anyone else eat Bubble and Squeak? I love the stuff!
posted by marienbad at 12:35 AM on October 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Woah, I've never heard of "American chop suey" but looking at that stuff gives me mega flashbacks to kindergarten in mid 80s Australia, I'm sure they used to feed us something exactly like that at least once a week. I can still smell it.
posted by threecheesetrees at 1:02 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


original "Chinese-American" Chop suey seems non-existent now, at least in LA. probably for the best
posted by Bwithh at 1:04 AM on October 5, 2014


Turkey Tetrazzini

yikes, that brings back bad school canteen lunch (run by a catering megacorp) memories from London
posted by Bwithh at 1:05 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


this "American chop suey" pasta dish basically seems like something that's sort-of-accidentally invented for themselves every year by college freshmen trying to cook for the first time.

spike the sauce with a heavy swig or two of a fortified wine like port is my student days recommendation
posted by Bwithh at 1:09 AM on October 5, 2014


sex worker pasta, you say?
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:18 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


“American Chop Suey”? I thought goulash was more like Hungarian Curry.
posted by acb at 2:39 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


These pictures are just beautiful, I am hungry now.
posted by brunathan at 2:49 AM on October 5, 2014


“American Chop Suey”? I thought goulash was more like Hungarian Curry.

There's the original goulash (gulyás) which is more of a soup, the closely related international goulash that the hungarians tend to use different names for, and apparently an american goulash that has nothing to do with any of those, and looks like a macaroni casserole to me.
posted by effbot at 2:55 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Alt-metal flashbacks are the worst musical flashbacks.

All due respect to System of a Down, but American Chop Suey embodies the original thrown-together ethos of punk. This is the Ramones of American cuisine:

Chop Suey
Chop Suey
I know a place where they really shake, yeah
Punk funk {unintelligible}
A real clambake
Chop Suey
Chop Suey
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:20 AM on October 5, 2014


Hmmm American goulash has a separate Wikipedia page from American chop suey.

Should they be merged?
posted by Bwithh at 3:35 AM on October 5, 2014


Minced meat, pasta, onions, tomatoes and cheese = equals cheap quick meal everywhere. My boys called it 'wet mince' when they were younger.
posted by h00py at 4:41 AM on October 5, 2014


Any church supper will invariably have a few similar dishes. Meat, pasta, and something to hold them together, preferably thick--tomato sauce being the easiest binder. I have never heard the term "American Chop Suey" before. "Hamburger casserole" or "pasta casserole" was always more than adequate. Common school cafeteria fare.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:01 AM on October 5, 2014


My mom used to make a goulash that was ground beef, tomatoes, onions, noodles and kidney beans. No cheese. I was very confused when I went to a Hungarian restaurant and had actual goulash.
posted by octothorpe at 5:04 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


At my house we group all these mentioned and any others similar into a single, universal category: GLOP
posted by jim in austin at 5:05 AM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Seems a lot closer to marhapörkölt, no?
posted by Meatbomb at 5:08 AM on October 5, 2014


Seems a lot closer to marhapörkölt, no?
posted by Meatbomb


Deliciously eponysterical.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:20 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Only if your nagymama put macaroni and cheese in it.

What I would give for a plate of paprikás csirke with nockerl.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:30 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Minced meat, pasta, onions, tomatoes and cheese = equals cheap quick meal everywhere.

Not everyone makes a casserole, though. I think pretty much everyone in Sweden has their own personal recipe for meat sauce (köttfärssås, i.e. minced meat, onions and tomatoes) which is then served with pasta (usually spaghetti), grated cheese if available, and at least for the kids, some ketchup on top. It's quite often the first thing you learn to cook. I think it was Marcus Samuelsson who named it as his favourite dish, not because it was the fanciest thing ever but because literally everyone has their own personal way of making it.
posted by effbot at 5:30 AM on October 5, 2014


I think pretty much everyone in Sweden has their own personal recipe for meat sauce (köttfärssås, i.e. minced meat, onions and tomatoes) which is then served with pasta (usually spaghetti),

In Britain, the equivalent is "spag bol" which is short of spaghetti bolognese, but is different from real Italian bolognese dishes or any other authentic Italian pasta dish. Typically involves a lot more minced beef and chunky vegetables than a real Italian pasta dish for instance

Maybe not as universal as the Swedish equivalent but it's very common and people always seem to have their own recipe for it
posted by Bwithh at 5:53 AM on October 5, 2014


Minced meat, pasta, onions, tomatoes and cheese = equals cheap quick meal everywhere.

The proportions of the "goulash" recipe seem very American to me, though (and when I've had the church-basement casserole version, people clearly add something sweet, maybe ketchup or Ragu or even just plain sugar, adding that very American tinge of sweetness).

(köttfärssås, i.e. minced meat, onions and tomatoes) which is then served with pasta (usually spaghetti), grated cheese if available, and at least for the kids, some ketchup on top

I've had this and it's really tasty, but you'd never mistake it for the version of spaghetti meat sauce people make in the US. The proportions and ingredients are just different enough, at least in the versions I've had.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:54 AM on October 5, 2014


We have three places in town here each promising to serve the Best Chop Suey Sandwich.

It's a pretty low bar.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:57 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


This isn't appreciably different from throwing a jar of ragu on some spaghetti is it?
posted by empath at 6:12 AM on October 5, 2014


In my house growing up we made it from a tube of ground meat from the discount bin - mixed with old bread to bulk it out, with a couple of cans of corn niblets or beans, some macaroni or potato chips and seasoned with ketchup and whatever fast food packets was laying around. We called it Pennsylvania hot pot.
posted by Flashman at 6:26 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


My dad grew up poor and occasionally he would make us his favorite childhood meal, which was basically this without the meat.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:30 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is what we called chili mac. American chop suey in my mom's house was out of the Fannie Farmer cookbook:
ground beef
onion
green pepper
canned tomatoes and their juice
rice
Worchestershire
seasoned salt
posted by hydropsyche at 6:31 AM on October 5, 2014


celery, too! I can't believe I forgot the celery.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:35 AM on October 5, 2014


My mother and grandmother made American Chop Suey for us frequently when we were little kids, but I hadn't had it in at least 30 years until recently when I decided to make it for dinner because I didn't feel like cooking anything more involved but also did not feel like getting takeout. My daughter instantly loved it, and now I'm sorry I waited until she was 13 to start serving it to her.
posted by briank at 6:46 AM on October 5, 2014


My mom liked a very low-fi version of this that was basically cooked macaroni with a tin of stewed tomatoes and some cheddar cheese cubes stirred into it. I preferred it to her other specialty, which was unseasoned browned ground beef served over boiled potatoes. Ugh.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:02 AM on October 5, 2014


You know, I'm actually a little envious of you guys whose horrible childhood food was this type of casserole. My food-memories as a child are, first, my grandmother's delicious but leaden southern food. This is not the satisfying, pleasant rendition of "southern food" that you find in upscale restaurants, mainly characterized by tiny portions and richness, as if it were a strange offshoot of french cooking. No, this was basic flavors repeated a thousand times: grease. salt. butter. Satisfying! Probably surprisingly nourishing! Utterly destructive to my digestive system. Alongside that, my mom was an incompetent cook and mainly served me Chef Boyardee, Campbell's soups, and sandwiches.

The upshot is, I can't bring myself to eat anything resembling comfort food except the occasional, guilty PB&J, and everything else that people call comfort food, like the endless parades of mid-century American casseroles, are both strange to me and unappetizing.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:14 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am sure that if you fine people like it, this American Chop Suey "goulash" is probably a tasty thing. Respectfully though, my Hungarian mother-in-law is making real gulyas right now. And I promise you that if you came over for dinner tonight: that firstly, it would change your life; and secondly, you would henceforth have the same pitying look on your face whenever you heard someone call homemade Hamburger Helper "goulash." Magyar pride, yo.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:17 AM on October 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


My mom used to call tuna tetrazzini "tuna tetrachloride," which I now find hilarious, in part because I thought that was the correct name until I was about fourteen.

We also regularly ate something called "truck." As I recall, it was regular ol' classic beef stew. I think once I asked her why we called it that, and it turned out her mother called it that, but no one knows the etymology beyond that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:21 AM on October 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


You can't mention Greasy Honky Pie.and not link to it

Thanks for reminding me that I've been meaning to try the GHP with sloppy joe (rather than taco) mix in the beef. My neighborhood working class eatery serves macaroni-n-beef goulash as its lunch special every week or so. Their version is a tad bland, but yes, variations on this dish are a staple throughout the Midwest. Delightful on a cold rainy day.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:21 AM on October 5, 2014


At my house we group all these mentioned and any others similar into a single, universal category: GLOP
Posted by jim in austin


In my house we called it "mung", and there was the vaguely curry-ish kind, and the vaguely italian-ish kind, depending on whether my mom or dad was making it. Always cooked in an enormous enameled frypan I don't think was ever used for much else, and was called "the mung pan".
posted by hearthpig at 7:21 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


also, and with apologies, all this talk of mac and beef has put me in mind of this story (which I found by googling "beef macaroni buffet bathroom"). NSFWork, Appetite.
posted by hearthpig at 7:23 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


My mom used to call tuna tetrazzini "tuna tetrachloride,"

I like your mom.
posted by device55 at 7:38 AM on October 5, 2014 [19 favorites]


My mom made something like this. I don't recall it having a particular name though. It was just macaroni with more stuff in it.

My mom is great cook and when I grew older I realized that dishes like this were her version of fast and easy food.
posted by Jalliah at 7:41 AM on October 5, 2014


We eat a dish like this called Mexican Maccaroni. No cheese, but it has bacon in addition to the beef. The recipe comes from my wife's family, but I was raised on American Goulash so it tastes like home and comfort to me. We had some leftover Mexican Maccaroni in the fridge and I ate it for breakfast after reading this thread.
posted by Area Man at 8:13 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't other countries have a tradition of one pot meals made mostly of starch? It can't be only us.

Lasagna, baked ziti, kushari, shepherd's pie, for starters.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:15 AM on October 5, 2014


I totally grew up on American Goulash (just called goulash in my home - from western NY area like that AskMe question) and while it may not be haute cuisine, there's nothing like that kind of casserole on a chilly fall night. Served with the Kraft pre-grated parmesan "cheese". Tuna-noodle casserole was also a staple - that came with peas and Velveeta in it.

My palate and cooking skills/interest have grown past those of my parents but I'll still whip up tuna casserole now and then for nostalgia's sake. (I make my own mushroom cream sauce rather than using the canned stuff, but otherwise it's basically the same.) And if I'm honest, although I'm rarely baking them in the oven, I regularly take Random Meat or Sausage, Random Veggies (fresh or canned), and Pasta/Rice/Quinoa and make them into gloppy but pretty tasty dinners. Sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have on hand.
posted by misskaz at 8:21 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


we called it glop
posted by PinkMoose at 8:28 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also I'm fairly certain a lot of these recipes came from my mom's collection of Better Homes and Gardens recipe cards.
posted by misskaz at 8:30 AM on October 5, 2014


...unseasoned browned ground beef served over boiled potatoes. Ugh.

Heh, my mom did something similar, and called it something that I cannot find any mention of on the Internet at all. Will have to call her, I think.
posted by effbot at 8:35 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't other countries have a tradition of one pot meals made mostly of starch? It can't be only us.

Lasagna, baked ziti, kushari, shepherd's pie, for starters.


Cassoulet, paella, tagine, fiskgratäng...
posted by jason_steakums at 8:39 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


There are certain dishes or methods that occur in nearly every culture, soup, stews, dumplings, and one pot starch meals.
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on October 5, 2014


In a very lovely, vaguely Lothlorien-esque trailer park affiliated with a university in northern California, I once lived in a trailer amongst advanced vegans, itinerant crusty punk kids, actual university students, and some tumbling-and-slacklining types with names like Wolf and Forest. We made a super lazy dish of canned chili, scrambled eggs, tomato paste and rice noodles that was like a California-tinged, hotplate-in-a-trailer version of this basic idea. I remember enjoying it quite a bit.
posted by clockzero at 8:51 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


> Don't other countries have a tradition of one pot meals made mostly of starch?

The closest Korean equivalent I can think of is fried rice. Fried rice in a home cooking context is tossing together leftover rice and whatever else you have lying around - bits of vegetables, kimchi, canned tuna, eggs, etc. - and stir frying it all in a frying pan.

There's also instant ramen (the kind you have to boil in a pot, not the cup instant ramen) dressed up with what one can forage in the fridge and cracking a raw egg on top in the final minute of cooking, to get a nice poached egg. But this is strictly bachelor chow and not something you'd serve the family, unlike the fried rice mentioned above. Although kimchi fried rice with Spam is guilty pleasure bachelor chow for a lot of people.
posted by needled at 8:53 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


It just occurred to me that one reason we never had a beefy, cheesy type of family dish is that even though we were not religious, much of the food I grew up with (especially on my dad's Polish side) came from a Kosher lineage that would have forbidden mixing meat and dairy.

I mainly remember dinners being being a fairly simple protein or maybe Carbonnade* (a Belgian stew) + a fairly simple buttered starch on the side + a fairly simple veggie on the side. And always the iceberg lettuce salad with tomatoes, cukes, and stupidboring oil and vinegar. ("Why can't we have Raaaanch??" "When you go live on a ranch you can have Ranch dressing.")

And since this was SoCal in the 70s, my mom's experiments with the local cuisine had more to do with putting alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches rather than cold-weather casseroles. I'll have to ask my mom if there were any one-pot meals she made.

*Not vouching for that particular recipe.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:13 AM on October 5, 2014


The only place I had something like American Chop Suey as a kid was from the school cafeteria, so it was... not good. The equivalent dish in our home was my dad's go-to dinner, something he called "mush" (rhymes with bush). It's basically a veggie and ground beef stir-fry served with rice or noodles, but the seasonings are onion, garlic and worchestershire sauce.
posted by cali at 9:26 AM on October 5, 2014


I grew up in California, I've heard the term goulash but I've never run into the actual item (either Hungarian or American). I went to a lot of church potluck dinners, anything rice or noodle based that was baked was a casserole.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:28 AM on October 5, 2014


The only thing even close to this that I knew about growing up was cholent. My hungarian dad would have stomped into the sea with his sleeves full of stones if someone had presented hotdish as goulash, or, god forbid, his beloved paprikas.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I read this post last night at midnight. It made me so hungry I couldn't sleep. I then proceeded to the kitchen and whipped up an extra spicy and cheesy bastardized version featuring PC Blue Menu Vegetarian Bolognese sauce. Kenji Lopez-Alt would have likely been horrified, but yow. It was yummy. Metafilter, I bless you for the deliciousness and curse you for the disrupted sleep and crazy dreams.
posted by Go Banana at 10:04 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


And before someone points it out, yes, I went fancy with the macaroni, ditching the elbows and using some ridged, spiral-shaped cavatappi instead.

THAT NOT SPIRAL

THAT HELIX

HULK SMASH
posted by Sys Rq at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


My mom made "goulash" but it wasn't really like this. It was ground beef, tomatoes, elbow noodles, and seasoning (I think garlic powder definitely but I don't remember what else). It NEVER had cheese. We did put cheese into what we called spaghetti bake, which was basically meat sauce and pasta baked with mozzarella into a casserole. This recipe seems to combine elements of both of those recipes but in a way that is completely foreign to me.
posted by devinemissk at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2014


It's goulash in my family. No peppers, no worcestershire. Or soy sauce - that's for the rice - Dad ain't sittin' down for dinner if there's no rice on the table. You want more carb than that, you're on your own.

However I have recently made an important discovery: Use pepper jack cheese in that shit.
Oh. My. GOD. For gooey, cheesy, beefy decadance on the cheap it's hard to beat.

Poverty pro tip: I don't know if you can still get Reagan cheese, but that also works pretty good in your goulash.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 10:33 AM on October 5, 2014


Curious. My mother makes a dish called American chop suey, inherited from my small-town Nova Scotia grandmother, with certain vague similarities to this. Her version, though, is much closer to shepherd's pie: the browned ground beef and onions are mixed with stock, oats (!) and worcestershire, cooked on the stovetop a bit, then piled into a casserole and topped with a layer of mashed potatoes, then baked.

The result's unspectacular but filling and comforting; both my kids adore it. I have no idea where the recipe name came from, but given that my grandmother, like almost every Nova Scotian of her era, had siblings living in Boston, I'd assume that was the origin. Wonder how the fundamentals of the dish mutated so much on the trip to Antigonish County.
posted by gompa at 10:40 AM on October 5, 2014


Mind blown. This is completely unlike what we called 'American chop suey' in 80s-90s Pakistan. You could order it at Pakistani Chinese restaurants, probably still can. It consisted of a disc of crisp fried noodles, covered in a hot-sharp-sweet reddish sauce with stir-fried shreds of cabbage, carrot and spring onion, a little bit of chicken. The best American chop suey in the country was to be had at a mansion sized restaurant shaped like a small town vision of a pagoda just off the Grand Trunk Road somewhere near Sheikhupura.
posted by tavegyl at 10:42 AM on October 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


tavegyl, the dish you're describing sounds like a variation on the dish served as "chop suey" at Chinese restaurants catering to western palates across North America. In the case of the "American chop suey" described in the linked article, the "American" modifier is being used to distinguish it from the "Chinese" dish.
posted by gompa at 10:57 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


20th century US adaptations of foreign dishes are the Charlie Brown Christmas trees of cuisine: homely, bumbling funhouse mirror reflections of the real thing that only people who are dead inside can't see the charm of.

posted by middleclasstool


I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:03 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


original "Chinese-American" Chop suey seems non-existent now, at least in LA. probably for the best

My favorite local Chinese-American (or what I think of as NY-style Chinese food) restaurant, Dragon Palace in Santa Monica, has chop suey on the menu!
posted by Room 641-A at 11:04 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


My stepmother used to make essentially this, but baked with breadcrumbs on top. Good solid winter meal. We didn't really have a Name for it, we just called it Macaroni and Meat.

I feel like I should make lots of casseroles this winter.

Rochester/upstate NY-style "hot sauce" (ground beef, onion, clove; used to top the skinny charred lakeside burgers)

I wholeheartedly approve of putting meat sauce on a meat sandwich. Got a recipe?

At my house we group all these mentioned and any others similar into a single, universal category: GLOP

Yes! My version of glop is basically a bunch of garlic and onions sauteed with beef, fat drained, plus sour cream, cumin, and some sort of small pasta (usually fusilli or something).

Also, British-style spag bol on hot buttered toast with a dollop of sour cream and lots of black pepper is a perfectly acceptable variant on a Sloppy Joe.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:06 PM on October 5, 2014


Thanks for the post! My wife grew up here, in San Jose, CA, and refers to this as 'Hamburger Heaven'. Sadly, her attempts to recreate this from memory has resulted in lumps of cheese swimming in a tomato-beef-macaroni soup. I am making this tonight!
posted by breadbox at 12:41 PM on October 5, 2014


However, there's a family recipe (apparently acquired by my grandmother in the 60s from some neighbor at the time) for a dish called "Panda" that sounds really similar. We usually make it with egg noodles, and a mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream is used instead of the fancier cheeses listed here, but it's otherwise really similar.

My family calls that Beef Stroganoff.
posted by tristeza at 12:43 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


My (Australian) mum's version of this is savoury mince, with more veg (cabbage, carrots, peas and corn) and without pasta, served over mashed potatoes. She was anti-salt through the 80s (she's seen sense now) so it was as tasty as anything else she made (not very).
posted by goo at 12:45 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The single most alarming food lable I ever saw in my generally good undergrad university's cafeteria was this: OZARK CHOP SUEY.

(IIRC, it had beans in it, and I don't mean Chinese black beans. And I also recall that it was disturbingly tasty, but I never ate it again after that.)
posted by wintersweet at 12:46 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ugh, LABEL. LABEL!!! Though IIRC it was indeed served with a ladle.

P. S. Pineapple may have been involved.
posted by wintersweet at 12:57 PM on October 5, 2014


My family calls that Beef Stroganoff.

In my family, beef stroganoff had cream of mushroom soup, not tomatoes. But indeed it had egg noodles and sour cream. We also had "American goulash", and if we had leftover goulash then adding beans, salsa, and canned corn led to "Mexican casserole."

I love this topic.
posted by muddgirl at 1:30 PM on October 5, 2014


In my family, beef stroganoff had cream of mushroom soup, not tomatoes. But indeed it had egg noodles and sour cream.

Stroganoff is another of those things that everyone has tweaked in their own way (and yeah, the Korv Stroganoff mentioned there is another Swedish staple).
posted by effbot at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2014


We also had "American goulash", and if we had leftover goulash then adding beans, salsa, and canned corn led to "Mexican casserole."

I am reminded of how many plant varieties were given names like "Indian Tobacco" or "Japanese Knotweed," which tends to both acknowledge similarities and emphasize differences.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:59 PM on October 5, 2014


The ultra-low-fi version of this that I ate as a kid: the Cheeseburger Macaroni flavor of Hamburger Helper, with tons of ketchup added in the bowl after it was cooked and served.

Did anyone else grow up with a family recipe for tuna casserole based on canned cream of mushroom soup? Tuna, celery, noodles, one can of soup, cheese, and Ritz crackers on top. I haven't had it in years and can't remember if I ever made it myself.

As I lounge on the couch trying to fight off this stupid head cold, everything mentioned in this thread sounds amazing and perfect. Probably because the subtlety of haute cuisine is lost on a stuffy-nose-deadened palate, so bring on the fat, carbs, and salt!
posted by spitefulcrow at 2:24 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else grow up with a family recipe for tuna casserole based on canned cream of mushroom soup? Tuna, celery, noodles, one can of soup, cheese, and Ritz crackers on top. I haven't had it in years and can't remember if I ever made it myself.


My Grandma made a point of teaching each of her children how to make tuna noodle casserole before they went off to college. She figured they could fend for themselves as long as they each knew one dish.
posted by Area Man at 2:29 PM on October 5, 2014


The biggest fight of my marriage ensured when my SO asked for spaghetti bolognese and I served him actual, simmed for hours with no green papers spagetthi bolognese and not the spag bol he remembered from childhood.
posted by The Whelk at 2:32 PM on October 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Tuna noodle casserole, properly, involves boiling one bag of "egg noodles" and mixing them all up in a casserole dish with one can of cream of mushroom soup, 1/2 lb. of grated cheddar cheese, a couple cups of frozen peas, one can of tuna, and seasoning liberally with black pepper. Add a cup of water or, if you're the fucking queen or something, chicken broth. Top it with buttered breadcrumbs and bake until brown in a 350 degree oven.

You can thank me later.
posted by LiteOpera at 2:49 PM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


American Chop Suey? Never heard that term in my life, and I grew up on goulash and other casseroles. I guess it would be weird for Canadians to call it American Chop Suey, though.
posted by asnider at 3:06 PM on October 5, 2014


My mom is from Wisconsin where these are called "hot dish" and you can expect to receive a variety of them ready for freezing and reheating if a loved one passes away
...

My favorite variant is "baked ziti" in which ziti or fusili pasta is used. Crushed, nearly pureed tomatoes from a can will do. At least 50% Italian sausage to ground beef ratio. Lots of mozzarella on top. Save some sausage, black olives or other enjoyable pizza toppings to put on top. To make it more faux authentic use fresh basil inside and on top, possibly a light pesto tossing of the pasta. Sautee the tomatoes in garlic briefly sautéed in olive oil. Or none of that. Typically half pound of pasta to that much or twice as much meat, a half as much cheese. Yeah boyee
posted by aydeejones at 3:24 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


It looks like Aussies and North Americans used canned soups in comfort food dishes. I don't remember any dishes like that from my working class British childhood. Was that simply not done in the UK, or did I miss out on a culinary sub-culture?
posted by monotreme at 3:27 PM on October 5, 2014


That's for a 9x9" square btw. Nearly 14 oz of crushed tomatoes is involved IIRC, so the tomato can easily be the most dominant ingredient, but I like to essentially treat it like a super saucy noodle based pizza.
posted by aydeejones at 3:29 PM on October 5, 2014


This dish is called "Jamboree Mulligan" on account of we learned to make it at the 1957 Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley forge, PA. I brought home what I remembered of the recipe so my mother could make it and I still make a version today. Love it. Want to try this version but I am skeptical cause every time I've tried to fancify this dish it was never as good (to me) as the basic recipe.
posted by Hobgoblin at 3:29 PM on October 5, 2014


And it's ziti or mostaccioli pasta and not fusili for the baked ziti. Classic hot dish and/or goulash involves big elbow macaroni typically IME but corkscrew (cavatappi) pasta is grrreat. Including hipster or home style mac and cheese.
posted by aydeejones at 3:33 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just asked the SO, he said his dirt poor Yorkshire family never used canned soups cause they where condensed and required using another pan to lengthen it so they used stock cubes to boil vegetables in.
posted by The Whelk at 3:33 PM on October 5, 2014


SeriousEats did a baked ziti recipe recently too, aydeejones.

After following this thread all day I basically had no choice about what to make for dinner. I think lunch will be covered for a few days too!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 3:35 PM on October 5, 2014


My mum always used stock cubes too! That explains it. Now I'm yearning for some Oxo rice.
posted by monotreme at 3:42 PM on October 5, 2014


This looks like the kind of thing you'd cook if you got home drunk and hungry and threw all the ingredients you could find into the pan. It would taste amazing but you'd never soberly recreate the exact quantity and balance of ingredients needed to reproduce it.
posted by kersplunk at 3:45 PM on October 5, 2014


1970s-1980s Milwaukee, here. My guardian aunt called it goulash (maybe that was the Michigander in her?), but the kids at school called it hot dish. And I wish ours was as nice as the recipe posted. We'd be lucky if we were allowed to sprinkle even the tiniest bit of that Kraft grated Parmesan in the green tube over our meal. I have no idea what it was being saved for. Plus, there was too much sugar in the sauce, like, a whole cup! Ugh! But the basic tomato paste, salt, pepper, ground beef, cooked noodles, onions, paprika, peppers, and a dumping of "Italian Seasoning" was all there. Funny, though, no other black kids I knew ate this, which isn't to say African-Americans didn't and don't eat it, also.

And it was leftovers for days, which meant that, to goose it after being so long in the fridge, we'd have to add some water, so by the time we scraped to the end of it, the elbow mac was mostly gummy, with some greyish bits of ground beef, and the watery sauce was pinkish. SO glad once I got to middle school and could cook my own meals, and better still in high school, when I had a job and could buy some of my own groceries. I cook way, way better than my aunt did. Way. Though I've made real Bolognese sauce, Bechamel, marinara, Hollandaise, etc., and I can see why she didn't. After a long day, just open the can!

I do not make this dish, or tuna casserole, however. Tuna casserole nearly put me off peas for life, until I had steamed fresh spring peas in college. The ground beef/pasta thing and tuna casserole are right up there with corn flakes, Cheerios and pancakes as Foods I Will Never Eat Again Unless I Am Literally Starving Because I'VE HAD ENOUGH, THANK YOU!
posted by droplet at 3:49 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


It looks like Aussies and North Americans used canned soups in comfort food dishes.

Not typical in Australia, at all. The 'chicken noodle soup mix' Trivia Newton John refers to above is a powdered soup base, basically just chicken stock powder with some dried noodles.
posted by goo at 3:58 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Was that simply not done in the UK, or did I miss out on a culinary sub-culture?

The benchmark American idea of soup is different from the British benchmark idea of soup.

American soup is typically has more chunky ingredients and thicker (closer to what Brits consider a stew). British soup is typically emphasizes being a liquid and is rarely thick (closer to what Yanks consider a broth).
posted by Bwithh at 4:02 PM on October 5, 2014


tavegyl, the dish you're describing sounds like a variation on the dish served as "chop suey" at Chinese restaurants catering to western palates across North America. In the case of the "American chop suey" described in the linked article, the "American" modifier is being used to distinguish it from the "Chinese" dish.
Actually, it also reminds me of an (authentic!) Vietnamese dish called mi xao don (me sow yon) which consists of a disc of crispy fried noodles topped with sauce and stir-fried veggies. (Delicious, btw)
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:25 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Totally just made goulash for dinner tonight thanks to this thread.
posted by misskaz at 4:37 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


right up there with corn flakes, Cheerios and pancakes as Foods I Will Never Eat Again Unless I Am Literally Starving Because I'VE HAD ENOUGH, THANK YOU!

I ate so many bags of cereal, with my hands, growing up that I can't even look at cereal without thinking "Human Chow." I keep small boxes in the pantry for when I'm sick but ugh, no, never again as a conscious choice.
posted by The Whelk at 4:37 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


All you people putting cheese in your tuna casserole are getting reeducated when I'm in charge.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:43 PM on October 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Chop Suey in Chinese means a mix of chopped items and denotes a rustic dish of mixed leftovers and odds and ends - so in that sense, the name, American Chop Suey totally fits. And as a man of Chinese ancestry - the re-use of the name is not offensive at all. In, fact - I think its charming
posted by helmutdog at 4:44 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


All you people putting cheese in your tuna casserole are getting reeducated when I'm in charge.

Do you object to tuna melts too?
posted by spitefulcrow at 4:45 PM on October 5, 2014


YES
posted by The Whelk at 4:54 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait, what? Cheese belongs in tuna casserole. You make bechamel, then after it's thickened you dump a cup of grated cheddar cheese and a whole fuckton of Worcestershire sauce in the bechamel. Mix it up with your noodles and your tuna and some frozen peas, put it in your casserole pan, and then put some sort of cheese and breadcrumb (or cheese and crushed potato chips if you're really decadent) mixture on top. What do other people put in tuna noodle casserole? That is the correct way to make it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:58 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's CHEESE AND FISH

No. No no no no. No.
posted by The Whelk at 5:01 PM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I refuse to believe that canned tuna is in any meaningful way fish.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:09 PM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


needled's comment reminded me that a slice of American cheese is delightful in kimchi stew. I especially like it in TUNA kimchi stew.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:10 PM on October 5, 2014


Totally just made goulash for dinner tonight thanks to this thread.


Me too! And it was delicious. Maybe more so because I ate it while watching Ramsay's Best Restaurants.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:21 PM on October 5, 2014


American soup is typically has more chunky ingredients and thicker (closer to what Brits consider a stew). British soup is typically emphasizes being a liquid and is rarely thick (closer to what Yanks consider a broth).

In the context of middle American casserole things, "soup" means a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. I don't think anyone ever eats that stuff as soup per se*; its real use is as a flavoring and thickening agent so that you don't need to first prepare a roux/bechamel, sauté onions, or any of the other usual prep steps that you see in more hands-on recipes.

* The tagline on the Campbell's cream of mushroom webpage is "great for cooking" -- even they aren't pretending that it is soup in the usual sense of the word.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:23 PM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah those Campell cans of Cream Of Whatever soups are meant to be readymade sauces/rouxs not like actually soups.

That being said you can use cream of celery to make a jury rigged onion and potato soup in a pinch.
posted by The Whelk at 5:30 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


in today's episode of Let's Horrify The Whelk i reveal that i almost dated a guy who thought it was totally cool to drink a big glass of milk while eating sushi
posted by poffin boffin at 5:32 PM on October 5, 2014 [18 favorites]


I am crawling out of my skin
posted by The Whelk at 5:36 PM on October 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


in today's episode of Let's Horrify The Whelk i reveal that i almost dated a guy who thought it was totally cool to drink a big glass of milk while eating sushi

Holy shit, I'm going to hurl.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:37 PM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's CHEESE AND FISH

Anyone who would object to such a thing has no business ever talking about casserole.

(Get help.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:53 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


that was like 4 years ago and i think that was what sent me over the edge from "perfect kinsey 3" to "totes gay except for hot tragically orphaned pixelated assassins"
posted by poffin boffin at 5:57 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah those Campell cans of Cream Of Whatever soups are meant to be readymade sauces/rouxs not like actually soups.

Wikipedia: "Canned cream of mushroom soup has been described as 'America's béchamel'. In Minnesota, the ingredient is often called 'Lutheran binder,' in reference to its thickening properties and its prominence in hotdish recipes, especially in Lutheran church cookbooks." (link)

(...which led me to a "you know you're a lutheran" page that included probably a dozen entries about hotdishes and creme of mushroom soup...)
posted by effbot at 6:02 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yes, I grew up eating American Chop Suey, beef, macaroni and tomato sauce. And I made tuna noodle last night with a bechamel sauce, with onion and garlic and peas, no celery, with cavatappi, and it was DAMN good. I did throw in some parm cheese at the end.

I would really enjoy trying the recipe in the article, it sounds wicked good.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:02 PM on October 5, 2014


>>It looks like Aussies and North Americans used canned soups in comfort food dishes.

Not typical in Australia, at all.


It's just an anecdote, but our beef strog was always made with cream of mushroom soup. I have a sweet and sour pork recipe that uses canned tomato soup. Chicken thighs, skin on, on the bone (which used to be the only way they came) simmered in cream of asparagus soup.

We probably got more mileage out of dried french onion soup mix - dip, apricot chicken - but we always had a few cans of soup in the pantry that didn't end up as soup.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:02 PM on October 5, 2014


Hey! No dissing of Campbell's cream of mushroom will be tolerated. I love that stuff. :)
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:08 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Slumgullion, we called it where I was raised.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:17 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ooo i have something to add to the horrify Whelk episode.

My mom used to fancy up kraft mac and cheese by adding canned chicken. I ate it just fine but the chicken always tasted a bit funny to me. I figured it was because it was canned. One day, after a lunch of fancy mac and cheese, I was putting something in the kitchen garbage. My kid eyes fell upon a can of what I first assumed to be from the chicken. I read T U N A.

What the...

I was horrified. I didn't like fish! No wonder it always tasted a bit funny.

That day ended my mom tricking me into eating fish. I recall her just shrugging and laughing when confronted by angry kid me.
posted by Jalliah at 6:26 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I make Cream of Mushroom soup as soup, but mostly it's a dip for stacks of toast.

We had the obligatory tuna or chicken noodle casserole growing up, but it wasn't a staple - there was a lot of fried rice with chopped up hot dogs or small shrimp, and egg, little flat croquette things made from mashed potato and tuna, and a dish I still turn to if I want a comfort food - Spam and rice.
posted by PussKillian at 6:33 PM on October 5, 2014


"Yeah those Campell cans of Cream Of Whatever soups are meant to be readymade sauces/rouxs not like actually soups."

Yeah, they are pretty salty but as long as you don't add salt elsewhere in the recipe (and it is diluted enough with other liquids) they are pretty good, fast bases for white-sauced foods! I saute onions in butter, add some mushrooms, then mix in cream-of-mushroom, sour cream, and worchestershire sauce, for a sauce for quick beef stroganoff.

So as long as we're on the topic, does anyone know a close replacement for Campbell's Fiesta Chili Beef soup? I bought seriously a 24-can flat of it when they discontinued it but I've used it all up. I have a quick chili recipe that requires it. I've tried substitutes, but my soup-chili recipe takes 5 minutes of browning the ground beef and 20 minutes of hands-off cooking; the closest analogue I've found takes 20 minutes of chopping shit up and 90 minutes of cooking. NOT THE SAME!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:34 PM on October 5, 2014


Do you object to tuna melts too?

No, but tuna melts aren't tuna casserole. I don't object to chocolate and walnuts, because that's yummy on a sundae. But adding chocolate to penne with walnuts, a garlicky, oniony, red-peppery, savory dish, would be gross.

Tuna casserole = 1 can tuna, 1 bag egg noodles, 1 can mushroom soup, however many peas are left in the bag, and some milk to swoosh up the soup. Possibly breadcrumbs or grumbled up potato chips or crackers if you feel fancy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:36 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kraft mac and cheese with tuna was the only thing my dad knew how to make--so I ate it a lot after my mom went back to work. It's plenty tasty, and if I could still eat mac and cheese then you bet that I'd still be eating it with tuna.

But the American chop suey and beef stroganoff that my mom made? No and thank you. Seven year old me couldn't really articulate the problem, but mostly-vegetarian current me knows that it's the ground beef. To this day, the only way I eat ground beef is in a double-double from In-N-Out; if they had a veggie burger I'd get that instead.
posted by librarylis at 6:38 PM on October 5, 2014


so in that sense, the name, American Chop Suey totally fits

since Chop Suey is already (Chinese-)American, perhaps American Chop Suey should properly be termed Italian-American Chop Suey.
posted by Bwithh at 6:48 PM on October 5, 2014


The Serious Eats recipe, plus the mention of Greasy Honky Pie, has put me in the mind to make Jim Macdonald's Chili-Dog Casserole.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:51 PM on October 5, 2014


Oops, missed the edit window: Chili-Dog Casserole is the brainchild of Sean Craven. Recipe reprinted by Jim Macdonald at Making Light with his permission.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 7:03 PM on October 5, 2014


We should probably include things like jambalaya and arroz con pollo among these one-pot starch-with-a-sauce recipes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:30 PM on October 5, 2014


The joke around this house is that you could put cheese on cardboard, and we would think it's tasty.

We lubs us some cheese.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:59 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had my mind blown by those recent Asks, because I thought this dinner was unique to my family--we always called this dish Shell Macaroni. The lack of cheese always confused my friends who came over for dinner.
posted by zoetrope at 8:00 PM on October 5, 2014


Jalliah: Ever have canned chicken? There's a reason one of the popular brands of canned tuna is called "Chicken of the Sea"...
posted by asterix at 9:37 PM on October 5, 2014


> I wholeheartedly approve of putting meat sauce on a meat sandwich. Got a recipe?

why yes, i do! it's a bit like making chili, but def. does not taste like chili or anything you'd just eat a big bowl of straight up (my mother loves to bring up how once when i was a small child she took some out of the freezer thinking it was chili--it looks a lot like it--and reheated it for my lunch and i got through most of my bowl before she realized the mistake. "you were so diplomatic and open-minded and unfussy that when i exclaimed 'oh my gosh, are you ok?! what does that taste like?!!!' little 7 year old you simply said 'it's good...a little spicy.'" haha).

cut+paste from my archives:

Rochester-Style Hot Sauce
From The Democrat and Chronicle/Times-Union's Food/Living section column "Ask-It Basket." Sorry, don't know the date; it isn't on the old clipping we've kept.

This is the local specialty, the hot sauce that tops all of the small lakeside-greasy-food-establishments' Rochester burgers and split n' charred hot dogs and defines them as local chow (in Rochester, the burger is not defined by massive amounts of thick soft ground beef; the patty is relatively small and more charred, and you heap hot sauce, cheese, extra hot sauce, relish, ketchup, minced onion, whatever the hell else over it and put it on a special bun and voila, local burger). It also goes on the infamous garbage plate (why the hell hasn't this caught on elsewhere? There's surely a market for it in trucker-friendly Memphis as well as Primanti-Brothers-and-greasy-diner-loving Pittsburgh). As I mentioned to Ryan over the summer, the secret is the cloves--my parents and my aunt and uncle tried for years to figure out how to replicate the sauce and then it leaked on this column somehow and they quickly realized the missing X component was cloves. However, don't use too many; a little goes a long way (I made the batch I brought to Joe's party too strong clove-wise and it suffered as a result). It's spicy and savory a bit too, and cinnamon-y. Mm, it's good and always makes me think of Bill Gray's and Vic n' Irv's, and Don's Original and Mark's Texas Hots and Nick Tahou's and Gitsi's and Sea Breeze and Tom's and the summer and mm.

1 large onion, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped fine
1/4 tsp. garlic salt or powder
1 lb. ground beef
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 dashes of Tabasco sauce
1 tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. marjoram
1 qt. water

Brown beef. Saute onions and celery in small amount of butter or margarine. Add garlic and browned ground beef. Put all ingredients in kettle and simmer for two hours or until desired thickness.
posted by ifjuly at 9:41 PM on October 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


and here's that beth hensperger "italian sausage and bright red sauce over white rice" comfort recipe i mentioned being reminded of earlier. turns out i've posted it before to the Green because yeah, it's surprising returns for the amount of effort and price (i was skeptical but it's delicious on a cold winter night!).
posted by ifjuly at 9:45 PM on October 5, 2014


this comes up too re: rochester-style "hot sauce", but i've not tried it so can't vouch. (i love when hoity toity food obsessive sites try their damnedest to replicate mysteriously regional one-of-a-kind specialties...often they come kind of close, but no cigar quite. i've yet to see anyone crack the code of gus's fried chicken or franklin barbecue's espresso sauce despite valiant efforts.)
posted by ifjuly at 9:49 PM on October 5, 2014


My beloved step-mom introduced my family to this dish. We did not know it as "American Chop Suey" or chili-mac or hot dish. Or Glop. That would have been preferable, I think.

Nope. She called it: Drunken Indian. Which is hilarious because she's a white girl who married a Sicangu Lakota man and his mess of brown kids.

I've been following this thread with great interest so I called her to ask about the name and she could only tell me it was a recipe from her paternal grandmother and it was cheap and filling but she quit making it when she realized that the green peppers made me sick.

See why she's my beloved step-mom?
posted by blessedlyndie at 9:50 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


As named in the article - but surprisingly not by anyone here - my family's variant is know as Johnny Mazetti, and made with pork mind, condensed tomato soup, cheese, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives. It came into our lives via my American grandmother, is delicious despite being a gut bomb and has been praised by all I have cooked it for.

At risk of crossing The Whelk, the no-cheese-and-fish rule is something people often refer to to be all fancy and learned but there are tons of perfectly fine exceptions, Shirley.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:16 PM on October 5, 2014


I never really was taught to do fish properly because I live in the desert, so fish and cheese never bothered me (I put a bit of Parmesan in with the breadcrumbs for quick fried fish to make it extra crispy), but tuna and cheese seems super unappealing because canned tuna is a cold food to me and has always seemed gross hot.
posted by NoraReed at 1:57 AM on October 6, 2014


Can anyone tell me how much pasta to use for a pound of meat?
posted by Omnomnom at 2:07 AM on October 6, 2014


Don't other countries have a tradition of one pot meals made mostly of starch?

Yes, we have those in the Netherlands; they are usually mashed potatoes, mixed with one or two (wintery) vegetables and a separately added meat item, and sometimes lardons.
We call this type of dishes stamppot.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:14 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can anyone tell me how much pasta to use for a pound of meat?

One pound of pasta to one pound of meat was (is) my family's recipe.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:20 AM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Personally I wouldn't call macaroni based dishes traditional unless you're in Italy; for me, a tradition needs to be older than that. Macaroni has only been used in the Netherlands since the late 1950s or so.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:21 AM on October 6, 2014


British soup is typically emphasizes being a liquid and is rarely thick (closer to what Yanks consider a broth).

This is interesting because in the North East of England, broth sticks to your ribs and is something the spoon can stand up in.
posted by glasseyes at 4:31 AM on October 6, 2014


There were ads on British telly for Campbells Soup in the 70's, the selling point being they were thick and hearty enough to make a whole meal after a day tramping about on the cold cold Hebridean fells. If that's what they call them there. "Campbell's Soup. The difference is in the thickness." The actress was an older woman with a charming Highlands accent, so utterly different from Scots. First time I'd heard it.

So I thought Campbells was some kind of native Scottish brand for ages and ages. Used the mushroom soup as some kind of binder for a casserole too. Once.
posted by glasseyes at 4:53 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can anyone tell me how much pasta to use for a pound of meat?

My base recipe uses 8 oz elbow macaroni (usually the only bulk starch) for 16 oz ground meat. This seems to provide a reasonable balance. I simmer my glop in a covered skillet so, depending on other ingredients, 3 to 4 cups of liquid are usually required. Not sure how cheese would effect the formulation since my wife is lactose intolerant...
posted by jim in austin at 5:22 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was blessed as a kid to have a mom who's a good cook. She never made this casserole - with her, if it was pasta and meat sauce it was proper spaghetti & meatballs. And she never once made any sort of "tuna noodle casserole."

Which isn't to say there weren't some regrettable shortcuts. There was one thing called "Chuckwagon Supper" that she found in some grocery store recipe collection. It's basically Kraft macaroni and cheese with... Spam. See, the idea is, you take the tin of Spam, and cut some of it into 8 long strips; the rest you cut into small cubes. Then dice a green pepper, but save circular slice of it first. Make the mac'n'cheese. Then you take a circular casserole dish (it must be circular for the right effect, though in truth Mom only really bothered with the full presentation once). Mix the mac'n'cheese, the diced bits of green pepper, and the cubed Spam in the dish. Then, you arrange the long strips of Spam on the top like the spokes of a wheel, and put the one ring of green pepper in the middle like the "axel." Get it?? Chuckwagon supper!
posted by dnash at 5:24 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Girl Scout Cookbook American Chop Suey = onions, bell pepper, 1/2 ground meat and 1/2 ground turkey (you can't drain the meat in the woods so it needs to be less fatty) and then a bunch of cans of spaghetti-O's. It was delicious when we made it. Of course, we ate it after eleventy hours of driving, unpacking, trying to start the fire, waiting for first graders chop onions and bell pepper with tiny knives and an argument between the leader who wanted to dump the spaghetti-O's right in with the raw meat because that's what the cookbook said to do and the leader who thought it'd maybe be a good idea to wait until we could see that the meat wasn't raw before we dumped in the spaghetti-O's and gave 30 1st graders e.coli in the woods, so we were pretty hysterically hungry at that point. I just started a new troop for my youngest daughter! Yaaaaay.
posted by artychoke at 7:24 AM on October 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


This isn't appreciably different from throwing a jar of ragu on some spaghetti is it?

It is. At least, what I'm used to is. Because it is baked, it holds together much more than a casserole. It also lacks the oregano and basil tastes of pasta sauce. Plus there are onions. (I realize this does not make it sound more appealing, but I promise you that it a hearty meal.)
posted by maryr at 8:19 AM on October 6, 2014


In fairness, it isn't all that different from baked pasta. But it is different from spaghetti.
posted by maryr at 8:23 AM on October 6, 2014


the no-cheese-and-fish rule is something people often refer to to be all fancy and learned but there are tons of perfectly fine exceptions, Shirley.

NO. THERE AREN'T.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 AM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


All you people putting cheese in your tuna casserole are getting reeducated when I'm in charge.

Which reminds me. I made a discovery at IKEA this weekend. Perhaps other have noticed it before, but I had not.

IKEA sells frozen SALMON LASAGNA.
posted by maryr at 8:34 AM on October 6, 2014


This world contains so many horrors.
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 AM on October 6, 2014


My mom always made "goulash" when we were growing up -- noodles, browned hamburg, tomatoes, garlic, onions, salt. I just made a fancier version of this on the weekend, and the whole family enjoyed it tremendously. My wife's family just called it "pasta casserole". I have a Canadian cookbook (1945 edition of the Purity cookbook) that has a very similar recipe with the addition of beans and bacon that is called "Witches' Brew".
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:40 AM on October 6, 2014


IKEA sells frozen SALMON LASAGNA.

Lean Cuisine used to make a tuna lasagna that was essentially a stacked tuna casserole. It was pretty good for a frozen entree, especially a low-cal version.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:49 AM on October 6, 2014


My family called this Johnny Marzetti, and sometimes my mom would get fancy and bake it in green peppers.

Question this topic brings to my mind: remember in "Lady and the Tramp" when Lady's lady-owner was pregnant, and she sent her husband out into the cold to get pregnancy craving foods? One of the things she shouted was "MM-HMM!! And some CHOP SUEY!!"

Did she mean this? Or did she mean the pseudo-Chinese dish? I feel tormented by not knowing.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:05 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


IKEA sells frozen SALMON LASAGNA.

Is there a warning on the package reminding you not to leave it under the bed for a week?
posted by poffin boffin at 10:38 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Only on the US version.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:46 AM on October 6, 2014


IKEA sells frozen SALMON LASAGNA.

Now, I am not someone who is all squicky about food, and damn you all, I've been perusing the 1971 Betty Crocker cards as a direct result of all this casseroley discussion. But there is SO MUCH wrong with those five words right there that I... I mean... wow.
posted by mikelieman at 11:06 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Since this seems like the best place to share it, I'm going to include a recipe for actual goulash/paprikash that my Hungarian friend shared with me. It's not only a fun read but having made it a bunch of times, is amazingly delicious. Please make it and share with those you love!

Measurements are very approximate – I never quite know the weight of the meat for instance. As long as you’re in the ballpark, you should be fine. This is really a recipe that can be made in a bunch of ways, and people do.

1 kg (2.2 lbs) beef shank – shank is the best, but if you can’t easily get it, you can use stew meat or any relatively tough, fatty parts
3 large (yellow) onions - again, recipes on the internet range +-1 or so. Either way, you basically need a lot of onions.
1 large, juicy tomato
1 Pepper – Hungarians use a less sweet variety than your typical bell pepper, but I usually end up using just a green peer for lack of anything better. Since such bell peppers are sweet and don’t add much flavor, feel free to add some more flavorful pepper like a jalapeno.
Vegetable oil (lard is supposed to be even better)
Paprika
Salt, pepper

Optional:
Other spices – I usually add some crushed red pepper for some heat
Red wine (approx. 1 cup)

Instructions:
Cut the beef shank into cubes (or other shapes of similar size). The size of the cubes depends on your tastes and your patience – larger cubes will take longer to stew. I usually cut them quite small, but if you want larger cubes you can make it like half inch cubes.
Chop up the tomato and pepper into large chunks.
Finely chop onions. In a large pot, heat up the oil/lard, and cook the onions until translucent. Momentarily turn down the heat and mix in about 1-2 tablespoons of paprika.
Turn up the heat to high, and mix in the meat. Keep stirring with a large wooden spoon. As the meat browns on its sides, it should start giving off its juices – you want to keep up the heat until the juices approx. cover the meat.
Once you have the meat roughly covered in its own juice, turn down the heat. Add salt – you can add pepper now or later. You can of course add salt later on as well, this is not an exact science. At this point, add the tomato and paprika. Cover the pot, and let the meat simmer in its juices. Only add water if the meat is not giving off enough juice to cover itself (this hasn’t been an issue for me yet, but I know it happens).
The tough shank meat will take a while to soften as it simmers – think approx. 2 hours, depending on the meat and the size of the cubes. After an hour or so you can taste the juice to see if it needs more spices, as well as start checking if the meat is tender enough.
Optionally, you can throw in a cup or so of wine about half an hour before it’s done (so basically when the meat is starting to be ok, but not quite as tender as you’d really like). I think the wine is a nice addition. If you do this, take off the pot’s cover so that the additional liquid can cook down. At this point, I also like to add some crushed red pepper for heat (this is a bit unorthodox, btw), as well as some plain crushed pepper. Really, add seasoning as you like.

Serve with:
Sour cream
Pickles
Any of:
Fresh bread
Galuska I haven’t learned how to make these, but they are my favorite. Apparently, germans have something similar that they call Spatzle)
Potatoes
posted by Carillon at 11:07 AM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


It occurred to me over the weekend that this sounds a lot like Cincinnati chili. But at least based on the Wikipedia entry, it's more a matter of convergent evolution than anything else. Proof that one-pot meals with starch really are universal, I guess.
posted by asterix at 11:56 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


damn you all, I've been perusing the 1971 Betty Crocker cards as a direct result of all this casseroley discussion.

MeFi's own Wendy McClure turned those into a pretty goddamned hilarious book.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:10 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ahem. In my part of the world, Goulash Hungarian style has equal amounts of meat and onions. A pound of onions for a pound of meat.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


My uncle grew up with real gulyások (herdsmen) and apparently the real way to make gulyás requires somebody else's sheep.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:10 PM on October 6, 2014 [10 favorites]


Although I agree with the Whelk 100%, I am now craving a tuna melt sandwich. I think this is because a tuna melt sandwich is not really fish.
posted by mumimor at 3:26 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]




Hmm, lox and cream cheese is a fish/cheese combo that works. Mmm...lox and cream cheese.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:09 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think one could make a pretty good argument that cream cheese isn't really cheese. It really isn't all that cheese-y. Lox isn't that fish-y either, for that-- the smoke tends to dominate the flavor, with the salmon-ness as backdrop. (I am on the "mixing fish and cheese is okay" side, though, so it is possible my opinions on this are moot.)
posted by NoraReed at 10:30 PM on October 6, 2014


Crispy fish fingers, shredded lettuce and melty cheese / mayo on a soft roll. Om nom nom.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:33 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


No True Loxman?
posted by ominous_paws at 10:57 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


ifjuly, I've tried the version of Rochester hot sauce you linked on chow.com, and it's definitely serviceable for those garbage plate cravings, but not quite the same. The tomato paste is a good thickening agent but I'm pretty sure the real stuff doesn't use it. Clove and cumin are definitely key ingredients, but not too much of either.

I'm a transplanted Nick Tahou's addict, so for awhile I was on the hunt for the perfect recipe. On one of my rare trips back to Rochester, I went to Nick's and asked one of the cooks about the recipe. He wouldn't say, of course, but nodded when I listed off some of the spices. He interrupted with "You use lard, right? You gotta use lard!" Which... I don't doubt, but after one particularly adventurous attempt, I think I'll be staying far away from that in my own recipes.

After I discovered this stuff I tend to just keep a box on hand for those occasional cravings, and gave up trying to make it myself.
posted by Roommate at 12:00 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Roommate, if you ever get confidential info on the mac salad at Tahou's, you HAVE to Memail me. It got discussed years ago here on the Blue in fact...I'm still kinda in the camp of the original jonesing poster, who was like "fed up trying and failing so many times to replicate it, I've just decided they probably put the scrapings from the greasy grill right into it". It definitely has a lardy taste. I want to know because this has been the year I'm trying to figure out how to crack the code for a lot of picnic/potluck givens that tend to be mediocre--potato salad, mac salad, pasta salad--so I can stop taking a forkful and promptly thinking to myself "why am I bothering to put this in my mouth? It doesn't taste bad, but it tastes of nothing". I'm semi-OK giving up with homemade potato salad because a place here in town makes a fantastic, beautiful but still standard (this is key--it can't be some gourmet high-powered thing, it's got to still be recognizably the archetype, so foodie shit like lavender or bee pollen is right out) version, but I would kill for the mac salad from Tahou's at home...Serious Eats swore it had some that wouldn't let me down, and it totally let me down. G'ah.

As for The Sauce, I still keep a bottle of Bill Grey's around, 1000 miles away, via dear parents. But it's not the same obvy--a shelf-stable bottled version never could be, as it's pretty much cinn/clove-spiked chili--so I've always been thankful to still have the Ask It Basket recipe. Now if only I could get some kimmelwek rolls here I'd be set for my childhood yens. (oh don't get me started on pizza and bagel dough or hot wings or apples... :b)

By the way y'all, I love these kinds of threads. Where it's not the usual generic Williams-Sonoma bland conspicuous consumption NYT food snobbery (which will be just as dated years from now as macadamia nuts and sundried tomatoes were from the past, you bet), but the stuff that really, really worms its way into your DNA from childhood memory, shameless and true. I celebrate you all!
posted by ifjuly at 6:28 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I grew up in New England knowing this as American Chop Suey, and our house recipe was about as minimalistic as it gets: ground beef, Ragu sauce and elbow macaroni. Top with Kraft grated parmesan and serve with bread and butter. I find Ragu appallingly bland these days, but I must admit that pasta+spaghetti sauce+browned meat+parmesan is still at the top of my comfort food list. Unlike other slow-cooked or baked casserole comfort foods, it's ready to eat pretty quickly, too.
posted by usonian at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2014


OKAY totally unprompted my SO made this last night, calling it a quick hamburger stew but with. Cold rice rather than elbow maracroini - it was reasonably okay cause there was half a head of garlic in it but now I have a huge leftover container of ground meat-tomato paste-onion-garlic-rice stew and not sure how to use it up ( I mean you could just eat it but I think it might make a good egg dish base maybe? Like a Shaskuka?)
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on October 22, 2014


Wrap it in a tortilla and call it a burrito.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:15 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I made it last weekend. Being at all finicky about something meant to be down home trashy comfort food goes a little against my general principle I guess, but Kenji's promise it's worth it for the silky texture was spot on. It wasn't the most flavorful thing I've ever had despite the San Marzanos and all that, but it was silky as all get out in a way both me and my husband appreciated. At the risk of sounding like one of those bingo spot recipe commentors, he ate the rest for days afterward for lunch at work and said it was delicious and made his work day every time. I'd make it again. Not omg amazeballs but quite tasty. Next up, I should bother making it the weird western NY way alluded to in those AskMes, with vinegar.

(The real revelation lately from online food spots for me has been baking sheet mac n cheese from Food52, which finally--finally!--is getting me close to the crispy-chewy, cheese-sticky, nowhere-near-stovetop-bechamel-creamy version I long for, but that's a derail, whoops.)
posted by ifjuly at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2014


(I'm also very interested in the recent post about making bar pizza in under 15 minutes with a tortilla and a cast iron pan.)
posted by ifjuly at 12:57 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wrap it in a tortilla and call it a burrito.

I have daughters, 10 and 7. "Quesadilla Night" == Leftovers + Tortillas.
posted by mikelieman at 2:01 PM on October 22, 2014


feckless fecal fear mongering: "Wrap it in a tortilla and call it a burrito."

I love you, everything burrito.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:23 PM on October 22, 2014


Really the only thing stopping something from being a burrito is yourself.
posted by The Whelk at 2:32 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


no it's the burrito nonaggression pact of 1886
posted by poffin boffin at 2:50 PM on October 22, 2014


We do not necongize its authority here
posted by The Whelk at 2:55 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


when burritos are outlawed only the outlaws will have burritos
posted by poffin boffin at 3:02 PM on October 22, 2014


well they are convenient and portable for the outlaw on the go.
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


What's next, wraps? Gyros? EGGROLLS? Burrito banning is a slippery slope.
posted by maryr at 3:33 PM on October 22, 2014


First they came for the burritos, and I did not speak out --
Because I am not a burrito.

Then they came for the gyros, and I did not speak out --
Because I am not a gyro.

Then they came for the egg rolls, and I did not speak out --
Because I am not a egg roll.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

(I'm moo shu pork, if that wasn't obvious.)
posted by Room 641-A at 4:13 PM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


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