Chipped Beef or SOS

Gram would make chipped beef for our lunch when we were younger. It was always a favorite of mine.

Buddig sandwich meat

Chipped Beef is also called:
Creamed Beef on Toast
Shit on a Shingle (SOS)
Stew on a Shingle
Same Old Stuff

The “normal” way is to eat this creamed beef sauce is on toast (also known as a single!) This made me think that this dish was originally England (English beans on toast came to mind.) Actually, it appears that this dish appears around 1910 in the US Army. My neighbor, who retired from the Air Force remembers Chipped Beef. While we were talking about it, it seems that the version he remembers was made with ground meat and serviced in toast. I did find a reference to chipped beef here. (see paragraph 4) It was one of the staples packed on the long wagon rides along the Oregon Trail. The chipped beef they refer to was just the dry salted meat. It would be interesting to know how they cooked with it.

Here is an interesting article on how the Navy and the Army versions differed ever so slightly. They even reference the Air Force making it with ground meat (just like my neighbor said). My grandpa was Army. My dad was Air Force. My Gram made this for me in the 60’s & 70’s. I am going to venture to guess her version with the dried chipped beef was from my grandpas days in the Army.

In all my years I don’t remember any of my friends eating this, but me, but then I guess it wasn’t something that came up in conversation a lot either. I remember the few times I mention it no one had heard of it, or if they had, they didn’t like it at all (“gross” was a term I heard a few times). I then thought it was just a “special” meal to our family.

About 6-7 years ago, I was amazed to find a number of my friends knew about this dish (and liked it), but hadn’t had it in years. One of them told me she used to buy it as a frozen meal made by Stouffers, but couldn’t find it any more. One by one I made chipped beef for each of them and they all liked it.

making white sauce

Traditionally, chipped beef is served on toast. Somewhere along the line I started putting my chipped beef on mashed potatoes and then basked potatoes. In my eyes, these are all equally as good bases for this dish.

Originally when Gram made this she bought dried salted beef that came in a small jar. Over time that become more expensive or eventually hard to find so she started using Buddig beef sandwich meat. I don’t remember noticing a difference, but then again, I was young. Up until a few years ago, I had been using Buddig in mine too. Over the past few years I have been getting as far away from processed foods as I can. A few months ago I found three packages of this in the freezer so I made up a meal of chipped beef and enjoyed it (that is what you see in the photos.)

Wikipedia makes a mention that dried chipped beef is similar to Bresaola. I haven’t looked real hard for bresaola, but I did finally write it down on the notebook I carry with me and will hopefully remember to ask a few butchers about it.

Chipped Beef on a baked potato

This whole recipe starts with a roux. When Gram taught me to make a roux, there was never any measuring involve.  For making the roux (for this recipe), I knew it was equal part butter to equal parts flour, then add milk and turn it into a white sauce. Her way of cooking didn’t usually involve following a recipe so I had to look up some recipes to be able to deliver this one to you.

Chipped Beef

  • 4 T butter
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt & pepper
  • Dried beef, cooked ground, beef or whatever meat or vegetable you wish to use. (Buddig sandwich meat is meat in the photo)

Melt the butter. Whisk in flour. Slowly whisk in milk a little at a time so things don’t get lumpy. Some people favor using a wooden spoon, I prefer a whisk.

Add your meat or vegetable.

Serve on toast, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, over steamed veggies – the possibility are endless.

I won’t buy Buddig sandwich meat anymore. It just doesn’t fit into our switch away from highly processed foods. That won’t keep me for making a new version because I can still make this meal using other meats or vegetables and be happy with the outcome. I have made it with ground beef (and a little garlic) like my retired Air Force neighbor was used to. One of my favorite versions is made using mushrooms. I have also made it with chicken.  I have added crushed red pepper and other seasoning to the white sauce. I have used bacon fat in place of the butter I was using before. I have added garlic. I have added caramelized onions.

Even though it is not my Gram’s Chipped Beef anymore, it is still good. Each variation takes on a different flavor, but sticks with our plan to eat more local and healthy meals.

Is there anyone else out there that likes Chipped Beef?

Sincerely, Emily

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8 Responses to Chipped Beef or SOS

  1. Joni says:

    I love this stuff. Thank goodness for Stouffers. I add frozen peas & put it on biscuits. I grew up with it as well, however when I was married my husband was in the Air Force and they made it with ground hamburger which I didn’t care for. I liked the dried beef in a jar and made it for dinner. I believe in the service it was a breakfast item.

  2. Annie says:

    Hi Emily! We do a version of this with cut-up hard boiled eggs (and no meat) in the cream sauce on toast. The recipe comes from my mother-in-law because my father-in-law also had creamed egg on toast when he was in the service. I’m sure it was even cheaper than the meat version to make. Our kids love it! It’s such a great comfort food meal for a weekend brunch.

    • Hi Annie – that sounds good. I am going to have to ask my neighbor if he remembers a creamed eggs on toast version. After writing this blog post I sent it to my brother and asked him if he remembered Gram making chipped beef for us and he did. He also remembered walking home from school for lunch when we lived in WI. We were only 2 in maybe a handful of kids that went home for lunch. It’s fun to hear his side of the memories.

  3. Pingback: There is never enough time… | Sincerely, Emily

  4. Pingback: SSFC: Leek and Onion over potatoes – #1 | Sincerely, Emily

  5. Suze says:

    Funny thing about creamed chipped beef … my husband was Army and he absolutely refuses to eat anything remotely similar to SOS because of that experience. I grew up the oldest of six kids and my mom used SOS as an inexpensive meal for our big crew and, while I never liked it as a kid, I’ve never eaten it as an adult. My recollections of the dish are salty and I don’t like a lot of salt. I do, however, love a good white sauce (frequently used for my pearl onions at Thanksgiving) … using leeks, onions and taters may just be the answer … although my husband will undoubtedly ask, “Where’s the [meat]?” I just don’t think there’s a middle ground on SOS, you either love it or not. The other ideas are wonderful though!!! Thanks for the post!

  6. Pingback: SSFC: mushrooms in a white sauce over potateos | Sincerely, Emily

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