Easy Beef Macaroni Skillet

We all have those days when you wake up early and run straight through to 6:00 PM only to find a starving dependent staring at you before the thought of dinner even crosses your mind. I guess this is why Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meals have taken the country by storm. Or why pizza is the national dinner of America.

Well, I’m not a Rachel fan, and our pizza guy regularly takes 45 minutes+ to deliver, so I have an arsenal of quick week night recipes that can be whipped up in no time. Beef-a-roni is one of them.

I’m almost hesitant to even post this recipe on the blog, it’s so simple. But make no mistake here, this is not a fancy meal. However, it uses ingredients that I always have on hand and there’s only one dish to wash at the end of the night, making it a pretty reliable go-to meal when I don’t have the mental bandwidth to think about dinner. And yes, it is pretty humble in appearance, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like it. In fact, of all the food that I cook – a lot of it sort of tricky and pretentious – this is SM’s favorite dinner. (Still unsure if I should be offended by that…?) But it’s one of the few things that he volunteers to make by himself so I’m not complaining. Just be sure to serve it with something green on the side.

SUE! used to make this dinner for us all the time when we were kids. I have a photocopy of the page, but unfortunately it doesn’t have the name of the cookbook on it. I can picture the cover in my head though – it had a checkered pattern, and the pages were all splattered and worn; the look of a kitchen diary that’s delivered a lifetime of beloved home cooking. I think it’s called “The Midwestern Farmer’s Cookbook” or something like that. Each recipe is short and easy, and is introduced by quotes from happy diners. This is the best, best, BEST part! Really, I can’t say it better myself:

  • Beef-Macaroni Skillet is a lifesaver when I’ve forgotten to take meat from the freezer for dinner. It can be put together so quickly and is so tasty! (Wisconsin)
  • A meal that I can make in less than 30 minutes. These are the types of easy skillet dinners a busy farm woman appreciates! (Iowa)
  • A delicious, hearty dish that holds well when the men don’t come in from the fields in time for dinner! (Indiana)

I am not sure if the dish holds up as promised by “Indiana” or not. While there were many times that Dad did in fact come in from the field long after dinner was done, the skillet was typically licked clean long before. I have a feeling that whether you’re feeding a farmer or an accountant, they’ll gobble it up. Enjoy!

Beef Macaroni Skillet

Click here to print this recipe.
Adapted from: unknown Cookbook of SUE!’s
Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes

1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
1 medium onion, fine dice
3 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (check salt content of tomatoes and juice)
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup uncooked regular or whole wheat shaped pasta (elbow, fusilli, gemelli, rotini, etc)

Brown the ground meat and onion in a 12-inch skillet.

Add remainder of ingredients and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until macaroni is tender (stirring occasionally).

The original recipe isn’t exactly the healthiest dish, so when I make it I try to substitute in better choices. Feel free to modify with some or all of the suggestions, though if you use a leaner ground meat, you may need 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or so to avoid sticking.

Many people avoid eating hamburger because of e coli concerns, but in this recipe the hamburger is cooked pretty thoroughly. The risk of food-borne illness is much less than in a hamburger patty since the patty’s middle may not reach a high-enough internal temperature (160 degrees) to sufficiently kill any bacteria.

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Comments: 6

  1. Sue October 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm Reply

    Oh hi Amy – You are right about this being a FAV of the growing-up Winner family. I always used ground beef (No one ever heard of ground turkey when you were a kid!!) I also used my electric frying pan and I just set it at a low simmer and left it until your brother was desperate for food!! He still fixes it for his wife and I am sure soon-to-be-born Baby Winner will eat it (ground turkey style) in a couple of years. I loved it because I used the rest of the tomato juice with some bloody mary mix! (truly a benefit!) It is from Best Ever Farm Bureau Recipes – 1977 – red cover and TOTALLY splattered and falling apart! Love Mom

  2. Jenny Knapp October 23, 2009 at 4:43 am Reply

    Sounds easy. I’m going to give this a try. I’ll let you know what 3-year-old Mia thinks…she’s hard to please!
    PS: Hi to SUE!

  3. seattlepalate October 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm Reply

    Jenny let me know if Mia likes it! This was (and still is) Jeff’s absolute favorite.

  4. seattlepalate October 26, 2009 at 12:40 pm Reply

    AH YES! The Best Ever Farm Bureau Recipes – 1977. Sheesh, that book is OLD. Just goes to show that good recipes live forever. Long live Beef-A-Roni!

  5. Kristy Roberts April 12, 2010 at 6:04 am Reply

    We put together this dish for the evening meal last sunday. The whole family adored it, I am going to be cooking it regularly now, it is always nice to find great new ideas for recipes and easy to understand approaches to prepare them. Thanks for providing them.

    • Seattle Palate April 12, 2010 at 8:18 am Reply

      That’s great, Kristy. Glad it was a hit with the fam!

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