Friday, January 01, 2010

Creole macaroni on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan

Here's another YouTube video. Produced by America's Heartland in January 2009, the clip takes a look at the daily routine below decks on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

Culinary Specialist John Smith's description of Creole macaroni caught my attention. Smith stirred a large steam-jacketed kettle of the popular casserole or "spaghetti sauce with macaroni."

I remember cooking the casserole, topped with lots of shredded cheddar cheese and finished in a medium-hot oven, during my sea-going days in the Navy. The dish features a combination of elbow macaroni, ground beef and canned tomatoes with sauteed onions and green bell peppers. It's all-American comfort goodness.

America's Heartland description: "This is a story not so much about the exciting life topside but the more routine life below decks. While seemingly mundane, the galley crews like 'Culinary Specialist' or 'C.S.', Torry Mitchell, take enormous pride in their work."


This recipe is adapted from U.S. Armed Forces Recipe Service card L-64. It yields 100 (1-cup) portions or 2 (18 by 24-inch) roasting pans. Bake at 350 degrees.

1-1/2 gallons water
1 (#10) can tomato paste
1 (#10) can diced tomatoes, drained
1-1/2 pounds diced green bell peppers
1-1/4 pounds chopped onions
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2-2/3 tablespoons dried crushed basil
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
6 pounds elbow macaroni
11 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese

Combine water, tomato paste, tomatoes, peppers, onions, sugar, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, basil, red pepper and thyme in steam-jacketed kettle or stock pot. Combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened.

Add macaroni to boiling, salted water. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Do not overcook.

Brown beef until it loses its pink color. Drain or skim off excess fat. Combine beef, tomato sauce mixture, and macaroni. Mix well. Pour about 8-1/4 quarts macaroni mixture in each pan. Sprinkle 1-1/3 cups cheese over macaroni mixture in each pan.

Using a convection oven, bake 20 minutes at 325 degrees on high fan, closed vent or until mixture is bubbling and cheese is melted. Internal temperature must reach 155 degrees or higher for 15 seconds. Hold for service at 140 degrees or higher.


Check this Diners, Drive Ins and Dives video for Chef Roy Donohue's take on Amercican chop suey. It was filmed at Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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