I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Cowboy stew? That doesn’t sound fancy and Jean is clearly a really fancy person.” You’d be correct in your second assumption, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to indulge in comfort food every now and then!
I think most people call this dish American chop suey, or maybe beefaroni, but my family deemed this American classic cowboy stew. I don’t really understand why, but I also don’t know why my family calls golumpki pigeons. We obviously didn’t stuff cabbages with pigeon meat. I had so many awkward conversations in elementary school when I invited friends over for dinner and told them we were having pigeons.
This pasta dish is prevalent in New England, so it may be a new one for some of my friends south of the Mason-Dixon. It’s made on the stove top and is chock full of ground beef, onions, peppers, and spices in a hearty tomato-based sauce. I’m sure there are a million variations, but one thing I absolutely refuse to compromise on is the cut of pasta. MUST. BE. ELBOW. MACARONI. If you try tell me otherwise, get out because we’re not friends anymore.
Cowboy stew is the perfect one-pot dish. I even cheat and cook the pasta in the tomato sauce – it results in perfectly tender pasta every time. I kind of feel like a sneak when I do this. A brilliant sneak.
Eat this with buttery rolls. A bite of pasta. A bite of roll. A bite of pasta. A bite of roll. I won’t judge you when you eat this cold out of the fridge at 11PM either.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 cup spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lb dried elbow macaroni (whole wheat or regular)
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, 8–10 minutes.
- Add ground beef, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5–6 minutes.
- Add whole peeled tomatoes (with their juice), crushing them with your hands before adding. Add spaghetti sauce, chicken stock, sugar, and cinnamon and stir well.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes.
- Add pasta and continue to simmer until sauce has thickened and pasta is tender, 12-15 minutes.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.