Saturday, September 17, 2011


Hooray!  We're having Beefaroni!

Does that bring back memories, or what?

As I’m typing this “Beefaroni” is being questioned in spell check.  What’s with that?  It’s almost un-American.

Beefaroni has been around at least since this 1966 commercial, but it’s tough to find much about its history.  I’m assuming that it was made before the Chef Boyardee canned version.  I was never a fan of canned pasta, but I know a lot of kids absolutely loved it, and even lived for it.  Chef Boyardee continues to manufacture thirty different canned varieties today.

Speaking of Chef Boyardee, did you know he really existed?  Ettore “Hector” Boiardi, along with his brother, started the canned pasta business that continues to bear his name.  Apparently he was quite a chef, even supervising the catering for Woodrow Wilson’s wedding reception when he remarried.  Hector opened a successful Italian restaurant in Cleveland in 1924 and the demand for his cooking caused him to consider starting a canned line of pastas.  The factory was located in Milton, Pennsylvania, where Boiardi lived until his death in 1985.

As kids, we always enjoyed Beefaroni in the school cafeteria and my mother made a version at home that we loved.  This is my version, which of course includes cheese on top.



2 lbs. (approx) lean (80% at least) ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 T. dried parsley flakes)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon paprika
1½ teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lb. elbow macaroni
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 jar (1 lb. 10 oz.) pasta sauce
*2 fresh tomatoes, de-seeded, chopped
*1 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

*can substitute 1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes

Prepare all of the ingredients in advance.  Combine all of the dry spices in a dish or container so that they can be added easily when called for.

Sauté the ground beef and onions together.  Brown the ground beef and cook the onions until they are translucent.

While the beef and onions are sautéing, cook the elbow pasta according to package directions.  Use the cooking time for al dente.  Drain the pasta.

If using fresh tomatoes, after de-seeding and chopping place them in a microwave-safe bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar.  Cover and microwave the tomatoes on high for three minutes, stirring once.  (Or use one can of diced tomatoes.)

When the beef has browned and the onions have become soft, drain any excess fat.  (If using an electric frying pan, use my tip for easily draining the fat.)

Add all of the spices at once, stirring them evenly into the meat mixture.  Stir just until incorporated.  Add the elbow macaroni and then the crushed tomatoes, pasta sauce and chopped tomatoes.  Blend all ingredients (except the cheese) thoroughly.

At this point, if you’re ready to serve the Beefaroni, put it in a large casserole dish, top it with the shredded cheese, and place in a 350° oven until thoroughly heated and the cheese is melted.

Beefaroni can be prepared in advanced and frozen.  It’s great to use a large foil pan, especially if you’re taking it to a get-together or covered dish meal.  To freeze, don’t add the cheese and place plastic wrap directly on the top of the Beefaroni and then seal with aluminum foil.  To reheat, be sure to allow 24-48 hours to thaw in the refrigerator.  Remove the plastic wrap, but replace the foil.  Heat in a 350° oven for 45-60 minutes until thoroughly heated.  (You may want to stir several times while reheating.)  Approximately ten minutes before serving, remove the foil, spread the shredded cheese on top and return it to the oven uncovered until the cheese is melted.

I have no pictures of the final product, as this batch was taken on a family camping weekend.  The kids on the trip didn’t even try it.  What is this world coming to?  But the adults loved it and of course they remembered the words to the commercial’s jingle.  Enjoy!

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