Every family has a dish like this on their dinner rotation, as it's cheap to make and very filling, as well as packed full of the things kids like to eat, namely hamburger (ground beef) and elbow macaroni. This dish is little more than ground beef browned with diced onions, in tomato sauce, with cooked elbow macaroni stirred in. Many folks include diced bell peppers in this dish, but my family wasn't much for peppers as we grew up. Some folks call it American goulash, and others call it Hamburger Helper. My brother calls it "American slop chewy," but that never stopped us from gobbling it down and asking for seconds…and thirds.
Pans needed: 1 cast iron skillet, plus 1 large pot (or enameled cast iron dutch oven) to prepare the pasta, and mix the final dish together.
Boil water and prepare elbow macaroni.
Heat a cast iron skillet for 10 minutes over medium heat. Brown ground beef; stir in diced onions. Cook together until onions are caramelized.
Drain elbow macaroni, let it sit in the strainer for a few minutes. Place the hot stock pot (or dutch oven) onto the stovetop. Add ground beef and onions, and stir in the ketchup. Add the cooked macaroni, and stir everything together. And serve!
Mom would make this at least once every couple of weeks or more, and when she made it, she would squirt a big dollop of ketchup into the pan for tomato sauce. However, I always personally found the ketchup to be rather sweet for my taste. When I caught the cooking bug, I had a girlfriend who was appalled at the idea of using ketchup. She inspired me to use tomato sauce or simply ground tomatoes instead. So, I set out to prepare a ketchup substitute that was more to my taste, one with more spice and less sweetness.