🔵 1938 Depression Era Chop Suey Recipe

Welcome friends! It is Sunday morning so
we’re going to do another in our series of pre World War two, Depression era
recipes from one of these old cookbooks. This is: ‘My Favourite Recipes’ courtesy of
the Stayner Sun and Julie’s Grandmother picked this up in March of 1938. So we
are going to do a full on Depression era recipe. We are going to make chop suey.
This one is pretty straightforward, we melt some butter in a
cast-iron frying pan and then dump in some chopped onions and we just want to
fry those off to soften them and give them a little bit of colour. I hear
you this is not Chinese Chop Suey this is an American Chop Suey Recipe, it’s a
dish that’s very prominent in sort of the Northeast in Maine and so on. It crosses over into southern Ontario where we’re based, and this is
from Stayner southern Ontario, and it’s a mix of ground beef, onion, elbow macaroni,
and tomatoes. This one includes rice which is a little bit different than any
chop suey I’ve ever had and also breadcrumbs because it’s going to get
baked in the oven. This is also a distant cousin to American Goulash which is sort
of the same thing in the Midwestern states like Minnesota, and we also do a
recipe on our channel for a chili mac which is which is fairly closely related
to this as well. So those onions have got some nice colour they’re almost ready to
go. Next in is some ground beef and in keeping with depression-era pricing we
got the discount ground beef. So that goes into the frying pan and we’ll just
break that up and fry it off. Now there are two chop suey recipes in
this recipe book, the other one doesn’t have tomatoes, and it doesn’t have
breadcrumbs, and interestingly enough it asks for 10 cents of hamburger meat. I have done searches through old
newspapers trying to find out what 10 cents of hamburger meat
in 1938 was, and the closest I can come is I think it’s about a pound, of
hamburger was 10 cents. Some of the prices I had were in the sort of twelve
to fifteen cent range I had one from the Toronto Star from 1938 that was 35 cents
a pound. So it was all over the map, I have no clue so I chose the one that
gave an actual amount. I’m gonna say this has browned up nicely so next in is the
rice and I’m pretty sure that I have chosen the incorrect frying pan for this.
I’m using one of my grandmother’s cast-iron pans and I don’t think it’s
big enough. So the rice goes in sort of mix that around, in goes the macaroni and then it asks for canned tomatoes and
this led to a bit of discussion in our family about what it meant by canned
tomatoes. Both for Julie and I, our grandmothers and our great-grandmother’s
and our mothers canned tomatoes every summer. We had giant gardens we canned
tomatoes for the winter and we made two different kinds of canned tomatoes.
It’s interesting because our families are from different parts of the province
yet we did exactly the same thing. We made chili sauce and canned that down,
and then we canned stewed tomatoes . So this is tomatoes with onion, celery, salt
and pepper. So there’s other flavours in there other than just tomato.
And we’re pretty sure that that’s what they’re asking for because there’s no
other flavour in this dish save for the salt and pepper that I’m about to put in.
There’s no herbs, there’s no spices and I think that’s fairly indicative of… I would say it’s fairly indicative of our
family backgrounds, of early English settlers in Canada. My family, my mother’s
family arrived here in the 1700s and Julie’s family arrived sort of late
1700s early 1800s and there’s a common theme between our family cooking in that
our grandmother’s made very sort of plain food. Very plain food, on my
mother’s side. So following the instructions we put it into this dish
now I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to mix this together really nicely in the
frying pan but I think I’m gonna have much better luck mixing it in the dish
that goes in the oven. So I think I’ve got this mixed up pretty nicely just
smooth out the top next on our bread crumbs. Pretty sure I’m using the wrong
breadcrumbs, 1930s someone cooking on a farm would have stale bread that they
have made their own breadcrumbs and they might not have been ground as fine as
this. But I’ll put those on anyway and just like every other recipe we’ve
encountered so far it just says to bake for 40 or 45 minutes. Doesn’t say what
temperature, but at least it tells you to bake it, and kind of how long so I’m
gonna say 350 degrees and we’ll see what happens? All right, so I’m expecting this to be on
the bland side, definitely on the bland side. But I’m also expecting it to be
really filling. You know what it’s bland… No I shouldn’t say bland.
It’s plain it is plain but there’s something very comforting about it. Something really warming and inviting
and to use a term from you know 2018 it’s it’s ‘more-ish’ like it i know that a
lot of people are gonna say there’s there’s no spice in it there’s no
there’s no spice! And there is no spice. But yet i still feel like i just want to
keep eating it. I’m kind of surprised by that, i am
really kind of surprised by that. At the same time it reminds me of a lot of
things i ate as a child which i think is probably a really big part of the
comfort for me. So I really like this chop suey recipe, I was all expecting to
say to you this sucks… try out our chili mac recipe which is
loaded with flavour, and it is. Both of those dishes: that chili mac dish and this
chop suey, are related but this is great on a different level. Yeah I really like
this, so thanks for stopping by, don’t be afraid to give this a try. I think this
would be a really inexpensive easy to make weeknight meal, that would work
great for lunches for a couple days afterwards. And it’s one of those things
that you’re just going to want to keep eating. Thanks for stopping by see
you again soon. 1938 Depression Era American Chop Suey Recipe

  1. Glen & Friends Cooking

    Thanks for watching. If you liked it – subscribe, give us a thumbs up, comment, and check out our channel for more great recipes. Please share with your friends. ^^^^Full recipe in the info section below the video.^^^^

  2. Liz Mo

    It's comforting in a way like having stuffed peppers. Mine are very bland actually I'm very lazy and do a crock pot version of ground beef, onion, rice, diced tomatoes canned or fresh and green peppers. There is something about beef rice and tomato combos that are just satisfyingly filling. I'm glad I found your channel, I love trying old recipes and have a book from the 1933 worlds fair along with my grandmother's 1920s cookbook. Most of the chop suey recipes are similar to this but I don't think I've seen the noodles added.

  3. Second Life Farms

    Wow! This video made me miss my grandmother’s New England chop suey so badly! Thank you for this video! And I’m happily subscribing! Cheers!

  4. DebatingWombat

    The tendency towards “plain” or “bland” flavours seems to have been prevalent in Northern European cooking until about a generation ago. It seems that after spices stopped being an almost unobtainable luxury (and thus used as conspicuous consumption) during the late Renaissance, the amounts and variety of spices tended to be fairly low, even for the upper classes that could afford them. Here, I’m judging from what I recall from reading older cookbooks and such historical cooking shows as the Swedish “The History Eaters (“Historieätarna”).

  5. Bane Williams

    Interestingly, this style of Chop Suey also made its way to Australia and was reasonably popular amongst the poor – Although in Australia instead of Elbow Pasta it would often use instant noodles. I've had it with elbow pasta once, but more often than not instant noodles were the way.

  6. MA Jo

    “ you know what it’s bland…no plain…but I feel like I want to keep eating it.” Love you. Have you done goulash yet? I was raised in northern Michigan (we also say aboot for about heehee). And our goulash had corn and noodles, no bread crumbs or rice. Thanks for your wonderful channel

  7. fradicsavesz

    I Just found this channel a few days ago, and I can tell you this theme is Just extremly interesting. I love Both cooking and history. This is some wonderful combination. Thank you.

  8. Joel Tunnah

    In Buffalo we called this “goulash”.
    But I’m confused, in every photo of a Chinese restaurant from the 1940s or 50s, you see signs for “Chop Suey”. What was it exactly? Surely not this.

  9. Matt Cochrane

    Do you think the reason that temperatures aren’t given is because during that time period wood stoves we prevalent, where heat was managed by the fire intensity?

  10. Dulce Rolindeaux

    Chop Suey isn't a Chinese dish. Check out this vid from the musical Flower Drum Song.

  11. marknsprmo

    I think this recipe could benefit from making a couple of changes. One I would probably like to break spaghetti noodles up into small pieces and brown them in some oil and use it instead of the macaroni noodles. They would add a nuttier flavor and boost the flavor all together. secondly, I would probably substitute some or all of the tomato with catsup. That again would add a much needed flavor. Also, in the mid west part of the US, we would mix in some asian looking veggies such as bean sprouts, baby corn, pea pods, bamboo shoots into this dish and there would be some gravy as well. I was raised in the 1960s and 70s so the chop suey probably changed a great deal in that ammount of time.

  12. Brandon Nauer

    I've never heard of chop suey in America or Canada before, it's very different to the chop suey here in New Zealand as ours has vermicelli and soy sauce. They look nothing alike.

  13. Sarah Maria

    I’ve heard the phrase Chop Suey for such a dish from the many Depression Era “grandmas” I grew around in my childhood country church in Oregon. I believe I have eaten something similar except without the rice and yes, it’s addictive and you just want to keep eating it.

  14. Eyedelon Productions


    I've got a 1938 recipe from "The American Woman's Cookbook" that is a bit more authentic: Chopped chicken breast, bean sprouts, sliced onions, bamboo shoots and mushrooms sautéed 10 minutes; add "Chinese Gravy": chicken stock, corn starch, "sesamum" seed oil, sugar, salt and "Chinese sauce" (I'm assuming they mean soy sauce). The recipe we all know and love from our childhoods!

  15. Jason Procellous

    Ate this a lot growing up near Boston in the 80's, but it was just beef, tomato sauce and mac. I think it had more moisture than here.

  16. Almanac Mountain

    I grew up eating this all the time. The recipe was from my grandmother who lived in Boston and lived through the depression. But instead of chop suey or American chop suey she (and ultimately we) called it slumgullion. The rice is indeed an odd addition. We never had it that way.

  17. StormoakLonewind

    This is so familiar. Family from Boston MA of Irish and Italian descent made what they called American Chop Suey. It was ground beef, onion, red and green peppers, canned tomatoes (plain) with elbow macaroni and just salt and pepper. When we felt fancy it had homemade spaghetti sauce instead of the canned tomatoes. Nice to see other's versions and to know it wasn't just a New England thing. Thanks for these videos on old recipes. I love going through old recipe books, revisiting the flavors and making updated versions as well.

  18. Marie Lawson

    Yup this is basically exactly like my families “slush” recipe except for the rice… I’ve never heard anyone else call it slush… not sure where that name comes from… most people I know here in NS call it goulash… but let’s face it… they all mean the same basic thing (macaroni + canned tomato + onion) with various other things! We use canned chopped tomato in our recipe and both the “Italian” and “Chili” flavoured versions found at most grocery stores work well. Shredded old cheddar or mozzarella cheese added to the top adds a lot to the taste and appeal… but doesn’t over power the “old fashioned” nature of it

  19. B B

    I think you are totally correct about stewed tomatoes. That's always been the base of my families Chop Suey. Family is French-Canadian (NewEnglander here)

  20. Divide

    Called it, bout a pound or somethin. I used to love stand by me and they bought like a pound of beef, cokes and shit for like a dollor or so. My guess scaled off that lmaoo

  21. Blind Mike's Culinary Adventures

    This was very popular on my mom's side of the family. Although I have to agree with you on my dad's side of the family his mother always cooked very plainly. But my mom's mother was not so much of it a plane cook. I have never seen this particular recipe with both Rice and Noodles. I will have to see if I can find our family recipe and share it.

  22. Paula Simson

    No matter what you call it, it actually looks delicious and comforting. Of course, would modify to add some extra flavouring and spices to suit our palate's today, but still yummy.

  23. Vic Flair

    It's the honesty behind the ingredients that make it moreish. Nothing complex, but because you recognize every single flavor that's present (butter, tomato, beef, onion, celery, salt/pepper) and you enjoy those flavors, that's what makes it a good, wholesome meal.

  24. Jan Verschueren

    Wow… so, apparently, there's Americanised oriental food and then there's what Americans consider orientally inspired food, which doesn't bare any relation to the equivalent oriental dish and this is where this recipe is at.

    Chop Suey (more like Tjaptjoi in pronunciation, but let's not get pedantic) literally means mixed vegetables, wokked with either, pork, chicken or prawns depending on the region in China.

    Ok, so that's sort of there, but, in China, mixed vegetables means carrots, boksoi, sweet peas, (baby)corn, green onions and such. Also: beef doesn't factor into it (they're just not big on cows)… and while this may well be served over rice or noodles, American long grain rice and elbow macaroni are stretches with regard to this.

    Thus this dish is a total bastardisation, but, that fact, I'm sure, will take nothing away from the familiarity/homely factor associated with this dish for people brought up in the relevant regions.

    Given we're living in the times we are now, with global availability of ingredients, I would cook this more authentically with regard to the Chinese tradition, using the appropiate vegetable, protein and starch sources.

    Edit: late realisation: you could do 'Americanised' vs 'authentic' comparisons and get away with it because you're Canadian.

  25. tjs114

    My Great-Grandmother was from Butler County, Iowa and born in the 1860s. In her recipe box, there is something like this except it's called Chopped and Suet. And for obtuse instructions, she calls for things like a 'Medium jar, canned tomatoes' and 'small jar, tomato juice'. Because she referenced her own canned goods. Her baking instructions were 'half hour in medium box'. Because her wood fire oven had four different ovens at different temperatures.

    My mother still made a version of this when I was a kid in the 70s, except she used ketchup instead of tomato juice.

  26. Strawberry Hellcat

    In northwestern Indiana, my grandmother made her goulash without bread crumbs or rice. She used cooked macaroni, home canned tomatoes with juice and a little added water, cooked ground beef, onions, and peppers – and it wasn't baked, but simmered on the stove top (almost like a chili with noodles instead of beans). It was pretty spicy with plenty of black pepper and paprika. She'd serve it with a side of sour cream and Saltines or oyster crackers. We always knew chop suey as an Asian-influenced dish. I love the recipes on this channel, and can't wait to try making the sodas this summer!

  27. CadillacJak

    I live in Illinois and around here we have rice with our Chop Suey. I've never seen Chop Suey with elbow macaroni before in my life lol.

  28. Matt Jarrett

    We don't really have anything like that in England. Chop Suey here is purely a Chinese dish which is why I was baffled when the video started. That being said I think I'll try it, with a bit of spice in it I reckon it will go down a treat.

  29. Randy Rightnowar

    Yeah in Missouri we call that American goulash it's just elbow noodles tomatoes hamburger if you're lucky and onions

  30. brigbjones

    now i need to know what "chill-sauce" is! Also; i bet your stewed tomatoes have a lot to do with why you find the dish comforting and enticing.

  31. 1973Washu

    Isn't Chop Suey any leftovers you might have in the kitchen combined with whatever is cheap at the market and then fry the lot up?

  32. pschroeter1

    Every now and then you make something that vaguely resembles something my mother made for us kids in the sixties.
    Needs soy sauce to taste after you take it out of the oven.

  33. Barbara Lambert

    Interesting, I was thinking it would be dry and comforting a stick to your ribs and hips kind of meal. There was a recipe to the right of the Chop Suey recipe called Chicken Dainty, I'm curious about that……

  34. Mimi Sardinia

    Maybe modern folks who expect spice can eat this with a spot of chili sauce on top. Like Sriracha or their favourite.

    I can't speak to that, I grew up with "white people" mild foods, and have only developed a resistance to chili through Tom Yum Gong and spicy chicken wings (which I most eat because the chicken under the spicy coating is really good chicken). That resistance has me toss a pinch of chili powder in vegetable soup, but not a lot.

  35. World Theory

    It was strangely amusing to find out that I'm been eating “depression era chop suey” as described here, with a few small differences to ingredient proportions, my whole life. Surprise! I also live the area of the US, that you mentioned that this was from.

    The differences between this, and what I've know as chop suey, are… Mine has a chunky tomato sauce from a can in large enough quantity, to give the elbow macaroni the color and appearance of spaghetti that you've pulled picked up off the plate, with the tomato sauce falling away. So it's quite red. But it's not swimming in sauce, and it only really remains wet enough to provide lubrication between the macaroni and everything else, the first night you make it. There is some granulated garlic added, so it tends to taste a bit like a generic Italian dish, to me. It's cooked in a big pot on the stovetop, so it doesn't get breadcrumbs.

    When we get our own bowl of it, we tend to customize it a little; I've seen a lot of different things go on a bowl of chop suey, some times a combination of any of the following, but usually (hopefully), one thing only… Grated parmesan cheese. Hot sauce (typically, Tabasco or Frank's Red Hot). Ranch dressing. Yellow curry powder. American cheese. Additional granulated garlic. And adding more salt and/or black pepper to taste, goes without saying, as it's safer to under season the main pot, than to try and get it just right.

    A certain someone in the family, absolutely loves putting yellow curry powder on everything, and often combines it with ranch dressing in obscene amounts… (This is me rolling my eyes.)

    I like adding the extra garlic, to get that spicy garlic taste. When I was younger, I'd melt a slice of american cheese on top.

  36. Alberto Adrián Schiano

    It should taste better if you leave it in the fridge overnight before baking it with a little bay leaf and real homemade breadcrumbs of stale bread… (bigger crumbs=crunchier)

  37. Papa Ubu

    So glad to hear you mention the Midwest goulash recipe in comparison to this! Definitely reminds me of the goulash my mother and grandmother used to make our family when I was younger, simple but leaves you wanting another serving…

  38. GeorgeCMcRae

    There is a legend about chop suey out here in San Francisco…. That it was invented out here by a cook trying to save himself from a beating by angry hungry miners. Basically a mix of what ever was handy. Something palatable and filling. Satisfying a gnawing hunger perhaps. Doesn't have to taste wow but must be the sort of thing you would chow down on after a hard days work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chop_suey

  39. BiNiaRiS

    You touched raw beef, and then grabbed the spoon, completely disrespecting the fact that ecoli exists. I too like to live dangerously.

  40. Darrin Emery

    as a mainer, I can tell you canned tomatoes here are just tomatoes with a little salt, processed in a Mason jar. The recipe should just be hamburg, tomatoes, onion, macaroni, salt and pepper. I've never seen rice or breadcrumbs in chop suey.

  41. Daniel Fontaine

    I cant understand why this was called "Chop Suey" … In my youth here in Montreal, what was called "Chop Suey" was made whith ground meat or beef cubes, there was onions, celery and soya sprout, broth and it was flavored with soya sauce, no tomatos of course … no rice or noodles in it and no way in the oven … I was brothy so it was served with boiled spuds or just with buttered bread on the side …. my father was born in Montreal in 1921 and that is how his mother made it …. Have a great day… Regards from Montreal 🙂

  42. Deadpoyle Always Sunny

    Very different from the Chop Suey I grew up with and it was a depression recipe. Guess it has to due with Massachusetts as I've never scene this style before. Most Chop Suey in the northeast has crushed tomatoes sauteed onions and includes bell peppers. And of course macaroni and ground beef.

  43. Carrie

    The smell of cooking tomatoes as my mother canned is part of the reason I'm not overly fond of tomato sauces. That isn't a fond memory, but I do recall with fondness helping to slip the fuzz off peaches before they were canned. In light syrup.

  44. Colin Nguyen

    I just tried this recipe and I made mine really good. However; I used a lot of paprika and sriracha, but I could've also used just a few serrano chili peppers and mushrooms. 😉 👍

  45. Tqe Sylverne

    So this is what we called American Guloush, in fact I just made a version of this last week. My family is from southern New England and have been since 1700's

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