Funny Name, Great Flavor!

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By Staff | Feb 6, 2017

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    My mother frequently made a simple macaroni dish during my childhood. She called it “slumgullion,” and we kids gobbled it up like there was no tomorrow.

    I don’t know where my mom got this recipe, and unfortunately she’s gone, so I went to the internet and looked to see what I could find about this delectable dish. It turns out that there’s a few cultures that have recipe using the name “slumgullion,” which, frankly, does not sound very appealing. And, as it also turns out, it was not very appealing long ago because sometimes it was made from fish offal. It was described as “the watery refuse, mixed with blood and oil, which drains from blubber,” and that sure ain’t appetizing, is it? In the Gold Rush of 1849, slumgullion was the name for the muddy deposits at a mining sluice. And, finally, it came to mean a watery stew.

    Back in the day, there was no firm recipe; they just used what they had. Meat was scarce, so sometimes sparrows or pigeons went into the stew. Onions and salt were added, presumably to kill the odor of the not-so-great cooking meat. Vegetables would round it out, and if they had flour, they thickened it. Slumgullion falls into the category of a clean-out-the-refrigerator type of meal. My mom made it this way. How do you make it?

    My Mother’s Slumgullion

    8 servings


    • 1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
    • 1 pound lean ground beef
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes


    1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes according to package directions; drain and place in large saucepan.

    2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown beef over medium heat; just before beef is browned, stir in onion.

    3. Add beef mixture to pasta and stir in garlic, salt, pepper and stewed tomatoes. Mix it all up and cook over low heat, 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through. I don’t know how, but the stewed tomatoes make a kind of sauce over the whole thing so it’s moist and delicious.

    Celery, mushrooms, and other meats such as leftover steak and cooked chicken are also good to add if you have them. I like to sprinkle bread crumbs or Parmesan cheese on it.

    It’s super easy and quite tasty. Anyway, we kids thought it was the best thing since sliced bread!

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