Long before we had even heard the word Burgoo, our family was intimately familiar with the comforting power of Slusho. The origin of this moniker remains a mystery, but someone has offered that it was probably generated from the act of ‘slushing’ all of the ingredients together in one pan. Regardless of the name, its ability to ‘hit the spot’ after a long day at school or work keeps this ultimate comfort food at the top of the favourite list. According to her sons, Slusho was Mom Robertina’s signature dish and was regularly featured at their family table. And, to my knowledge, no one in the family ever recorded this recipe – it was just known, and was passed on from generation to generation through some sort of gastronomical osmosis.
And, back in the day, with our limited world-view, we just assumed that there was only one pasta …macaroni!
As I continued to cook and develop recipes, Slusho evolved, taking on many variations (see Orecchiette alla Florentina) … but the basic foundation has always been meat, tomatoes, pasta and cheese.
But, as is the case with many families, despite the cook’s creativity, there often comes the nostalgic request to make it ‘just like mom did’ …and the original Slusho is presented to the table.
January is the perfect month to bring on the comfort food!
Tomato Beef Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 50-60 minutes
Number of Servings: 4-6
2 cups (500 mL/240 g) dry elbow macaroni pasta
1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
1 pound (450 g) lean ground sirloin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
l large onion, fine dice
2 cans (284 mL/10 fl oz) condensed tomato soup (the original), undiluted
1 tablespoon (15 mL) prepared mustard (hot dog mustard), or Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup (250 mL /4 oz/112 g) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil; generously add Kosher salt and 2 cups of dry elbow macaroni. Cook until pasta is al dente – about 7-8 minutes (don’t overcook as it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain, and set aside. This should make about 3 cups of cooked macaroni.
- Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add ground sirloin, gently breaking it up as you sauté until it is no longer pink – 5-10 minutes. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add chopped onions to the pan and continue to sauté until the onion is fragrant and soft, and the beef is starting to brown – 10-15 minutes.
- Reduce heat. Stir in the two cans of undiluted tomato soup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Heat through to a gentle simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Gently fold in cooked macaroni and the 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.
- Pour into an lightly oiled 9 x 9 baking dish. Tightly cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 3500F (1800C) – or until heated through and bubbly.
- Remove foil; add some extra cheddar cheese. Return to oven for 5 minutes.
- Let dish sit for 5 minutes before serving.
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