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Original Johnny Marzetti

Subject: Johnny Marzetti
From: James
Date: 10/23/2022, 9:02 AM

On 10/22/2022 7:23 PM, James wrote:

I am looking for a recipe for Johnny Marzetti that was served at the 
West Branch Elementary School, Bradford, Pennsylvania in the 50's. 

Hello James,

I cannot find any recipe at all that even mentions West Branch Elementary School, much less one from that school from the 1950s.

However, "Johnny Marzetti" is a quite common dish around the country, and not just in school cafeterias. It is popular because it is quick and easy and is a sort of "thrown-together" dish. It has several names such as: "Johnny Marzetti", "Joe Marzetti", "Joe Mazzotti", "Jo Mazzoti", "American Chop Suey" (my wife calls it by that  name), "American Goulash", and other names. There is a lot of small variation in recipes for it, because people like to add their own special touch to the original, basic recipe.

I have doubts that you will ever find the specific recipe used by West Branch Elementary School unless you come across it in an old cookbook or newspaper article or unless you can make contact with someone who worked in that school cafeteria in the 50s.

I can give you the original "Johnny Marzetti" recipe. See below. The dish was created by Teresa Marzetti of Marzetti's Italian Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, before 1920. She named it for her brother-in-law, Johnny Marzetti. It quickly became popular and spread to public schools in Columbus and then elsewhere. There are some variations from the original recipe here:  2-5-2007

Some recipes for this, particularly some of the ones that call it "Jo Mazzoti", call for ground pork, but most use ground beef, as did the original. For a recipe with pork, see: 10-12-2012

Also see:

Ohio Thoughts Blog

Neighbor Food Blog


The Original Johnny Marzetti  Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 pounds cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

Sauté onion in oil until limp, about 3 minutes.
Add mushrooms and fry until juices are released, about 5 minutes.
Add beef and cook, stirring, breaking up clumps, until no longer red.
Remove from heat and mix in tomato sauce and all but 1 cup of cheese.
Transfer to greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish and add macaroni.
Toss gently to mix. Scatter remaining cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, 
in 350-degree oven until browned and bubbling (35 to 40 minutes). 
Serves 10 to 12.

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