Gilmore Girls and Johnny Machete

I’ve watched the Gilmore Girls for years. While my brother was coming out of surgery, I was watching Luke’s answer to Lorelei’s proposal, hoping the episode concluded before I had to go to his room. Yes, I know. Bad sister! No biscuit!

I watch the reruns and I have the cookbooks. The episode 18 in season 3, Richard makes a dish he calls “Johnny Machete.” I watched the episode again — AGAIN! — a couple weeks ago and decided to check the cookbooks for it. Zip. Nada.

The Rory cocktail (the one Luke said was akin to drinking My Little Pony) and the Santa burger are there, along with salmon puffs and apple tarts, but no Johnny Machete.

Like so many before me, I started the search. The one reference made to ingredients is that it has cream of mushroom soup in it. By the looks of the dish Richard puts on the table, it’s a bastardization of Beef Stroganoff. The search gave me several versions of a dish called Johnny Marzetti.

Johnny Marzetti originated in Ohio and, as a person who likes spices and flavor, it tastes like it comes from the mid-west. Mild sausage meat and ground beef, elbow macaroni, chopped tomatoes, a chopped pepper and 1/2 a chopped onion, 1 clove of garlic, some salt and pepper, cooked, put in a casserole dish, add shredded cheese (Cheddar and mozzarella), all baked together and you come out with a very bland dish. C’mon, people, would spicy sausage meat kill ya?

Johnny Marzetti
This looks better than it tasted. By Matt Johnson from Omaha, Nebraska, United States – Johnny Marzetti, CC BY 2.0 Wikipedia

The version that uses cream of mushroom soup and egg noodles doesn’t even use sausage meat! Bland, bland, bland. Even Cheddar cheese can’t save this one.

Since a casserole will serve dozens, I have had ample opportunity to try to do something with the non-soup version.

Different cheese are nice. Something with more punch that mozzarella is a start. I’ve done Feta and I’ve tried Romano. They help. I’ve added Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Steak spices — better. Zatar — fine. Italian spice mix from Penzeys — getting there. I’ve gone even more drastic with Tait Farms Cranberry Chutney — primo!

Next try will be the cream of mushroom version. I’m thinking I might have to add Penzeys Hungarian Paprika and/or a spicy mustard, an interesting salt … hmmm, sounds like an experiment for after I get more Johnny out of my freezer.

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