Monday, December 22, 2008

American Chop Suey and a Tale of Two Dinners

This weekend, I made a pair of vastly different meals: Pork Shoulder with Guinness, Dried Cherries, and Sweet Potatoes from Daniel Boulud’s 2006 Braise cookbook, and American Chop Suey, from my favorite long-defunct food blog, Words to Eat By.

The first dish took more than five hours and ran about $20, while other was finished in 45 minutes and cost a little over $5. Both were tasty and satisfyingly filling – perfect comfort foods for -47°F. Alas, only one will make frequent repeat performances, and it ain’t the dinner with 14 ingredients, all found in different stores (a.k.a. the pork thingie).

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Boulud’s recipe. It WAS delicious. Plus, I got to sear, sautĂ©, braise, and marinate, and didn’t burn myself beyond recognition during the Brown Pork in Very Hot Oil portion of the program. Sadly, it’s a once-in-awhile kinda dish, as the expense and ingredient list are too prohibitive for regular appearances.

American Chop Suey, on the other hand … this is going into rotation. Essentially macaroni and ground turkey (with a cup of vegetables thrown in for posterity), it’s not rocket science. But I LIKED IT. And it’s got crazy potential, too. Like:

Add Whatever You Have Lying Around the Fridge Potential: good
Double the Recipe and Portion it Out for Lunch Potential: very good
Leftover Potential: excellent.
“Will My Kids Like It?” Potential: off the charts

Though it does fall short in other areas:

Freezer Potential: not so much
Crockpot Potential: *vomits on office chair*

All in all, it’s a keeper, and I highly suggest it for a weeknight meal. For the holidays, go with the Pork Shoulder, though. If you have the time, cash, and pure brute strength, I can definitely e-mail you the recipe.

American Chop Suey
Makes 5 nice-sized servings
Adapted from Words to Eat By

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 ½ lbs ground turkey
½ lb (2 c.) uncooked elbow macaroni
½ cup minced onion
½ cup chopped red bell pepper or celery (or pepper AND celery – Kris)
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teapsoon pepper
1-1 ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1) In a large nonstick skillet or saute pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey. Cook until browned, breaking it up with the back of a spoon as you go. Remove turkey and place on plate or in bowl for time being.

2) Wipe the pan with a paper towel to get some of the grease out. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add macaroni, onion, pepper, and celery (if having). Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until onion is soft and a little translucent, stirring occasionally. Add meat back into pan. Stir.

3) Add tomato sauce, water, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir everything and cover pan. Drop heat to medium-low and simmer about 20 or 25 minutes.Voila!

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
427 calories, 13.4 g fat, $1.09

1 tablespoon olive oil: 139 calories, 13.5 g fat, $0.12
1 ½ lbs ground turkey: 960 calories, 48 g fat, $3.73
½ lb (2 c.) uncooked elbow macaroni: 811 calories, 4.1 g fat, $0.33
½ cup minced onion: 34 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.12
½ cup chopped red bell pepper or celery (or pepper AND celery – Kris): 14 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.39
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce: 173 calories, 1 g fat, $0.50
1 cup water: negligible calories and fat, FREE
1 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
¼ teapsoon pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1-1 ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce: 5 calories, 0 g fat, $0.22
TOTAL: 2136 calories, 66.8 g fat, $5.43
PER SERVING (TOTAL/5): 427 calories, 13.4 g fat, $1.09


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