I'm sure we all grew up eating "Hamburger Helper." This is much, much better. It's homemade, uses from-scratch ingredients and has very little sodium. Some people call it Macaroni and Beef, some people American Chop Suey. Whatever you call it, this is delicious!
I had never heard of American Chop Suey before Amy Jo sent me an email wondering if it could be made in a slow cooker. She first learned of the dish on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I looked the name up on Wikipedia and learned that it seems to be a regional thing---sometimes it's called Macaroni and Beef, and it appears that it was the inspiration behind Hamburger Helper. Huh!
I love learning new things.
1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
5 bacon strips, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes --- any flavor, or plain
1 can water (empty tomato can)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (26-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
1 (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni (I used brown rice pasta)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. In a large skillet, brown the beef, bacon and onion all together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain well and plop into your slow cooker. Add everything else into the pot except for the pasta and cheese.
Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or high for about 4. Stir in the raw pasta and cook on high for approximately 30 minutes, or until pasta is bite-tender. Serve in a wide-mouthed bowl with a handful of cheese on each serving.
Amy Jo, thank you so much for letting me know about this dish! The slight smokiness from the bacon really flavors the meat well, and I loved how the pasta cooked in the pot and swelled nicely to create a wonderful casserole. The serving sizes are generous, here---I had a bunch left that I shared with my friend Lorraine and her family. My girls and Lorraine's girls all really liked the pasta with meat sauce. Success!
The leftovers taste great the next day, but the texture is different, and something to note. You'll find that the pasta really breaks down overnight and soaks up a lot of the moisture.