The recipe below is the version of Macaroni & Tomatoes that was written in my mom’s handwriting in her recipe box. That said, I believe there are many different versions among various family members. As far as I know, the recipe was passed down from Grandma (Ina) McCallum who was known for her sweet/savory dishes. Feel free to improvise and substitute ingredients as we all have. For example, I use grated nutmeg instead of cloves because I prefer it. (The 80’s clove cigarette fad ruined the flavor for me – I once smoked an entire pack in one night. I was so cool.) I, also, often use ground turkey instead of beef, red & orange peppers because I don’t like green and I find diced tomatoes more convenient than whole ones. I even have the gall to use whole grain penne instead of regular elbow macaroni. I know, I’m such a rebel. The important thing is, to me, it tastes just like what I ate as a kid even though it’s not, exactly. Whatever you do, never, ever omit the bacon and make sure you have a good combination of the sweet and savory spices.
I’ve noted my substitutions and additions in parenthesis
6-8 cups macaroni, cooked al dente
1/2 lb bacon, sliced (about 1 inch pieces)
1/2 green pepper, chopped (I use 2 orange/red bell peppers to increase the veggie content)
1 large onion, chopped
(1 cup chopped celery)
1 1/2 lb ground beef (I reduce the amount to 1 lb)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves (or nutmeg)
1 tsp oregano (ground)
1 TB sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste
(crushed red pepper flakes)
1 lg can whole tomatoes (I believe she used @ a 32oz can)
1 can tomato sauce (15oz)
Cook macaroni in salted water to yield 6-8 cups. Be sure and cook it al dente (slightly undercooked) as it will continue to cook in the sauce. Drain and set aside.
wishin’ and hopin’ and prayin’ for bacon
In a dutch oven or large skillet, cook bacon on medium heat until it starts to brown then drain off the fat.
Add chopped pepper, onion and celery to the pan with a little olive oil and cook until the onion is translucent, stirring often with spatula. Go ahead and add your spices at this time…
Add bacon back in…
Add ground beef, sugar and salt and pepper and cook until the meat is browned and cooked through, stirring often with spatula.
Drain excess fat
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and cooked macaroni. Simmer on low heat for @ 45 minutes.
Serve with some yummy bread and enjoy… This is true comfort food in our family!
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.