As I thought of this blog, I knew I wanted the first to be a dish with history in the military. Dating back to my childhood, I have memories of various family members talking about SOS or flat out calling it “sh$t on a shingle.” As a kid, it was the only time I was allowed to use a cuss word. I started digging into the history of the dish and its military connection. The earliest date I could find was 1910, and its inclusion in The Manual For Army Cooks, where it was called “Stewed, chip beef.” That particular recipe called for 15 pounds of chipped beef to feed 60 men. Around WWII is when it became known as SOS but, it also had many other names…none of them fit to put in this blog, as they are all some various forms of some very vulgar terms so, we won’t go there. Somewhere around the 1960s, the recipe changed to hamburger meat or breakfast sausage as the protein source over chipped beef itself. Maybe they realized it was cheaper or just plain easier because chip beef requires a lot of soaking and rinsing to rid the meat of some of its salt content. I’ve made this recipe before, without rinsing the chipped beef in my early cooking years, and trust me you, do not want to skip the soak and rinse step!
1-2 jars of jarred dried beef
4 tablespoons fat (butter, bacon grease, lard)
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I’ve only ever used cows milk, not sure how milk alternatives will work)
First things first, soak your dried beef in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and repeat for a total of 3 times (1 and ½ hours). Pat dry, stack, and slice.
In a 10 or 12 inch skillet, melt fat and add flour, blend to a nice smooth base.
Add 2 cups of warm milk. I warm my milk because adding cold milk to a hot pan can cause the fat to seize up, and it will take longer to get your gravy smooth.
Season to taste. I use garlic, white pepper and a touch of black pepper, do not add salt until after you add the meat. If you didn’t rinse your dried meat well, adding salt can make it too salty.
Serve over toast and enjoy!