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S.O.S. (shit on a shingle)

I just finished reading the article and recipe on G.I.Grub in Saveur, I would like any suggestion to improve this recipe. I have some bacon grease (months old) in the fridge and some thin sliced beef steaks.

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  1. I don't know, besides quality ingredients I think understanding the essence of a recipe or dish is the key to changing the recipe for the better.

    Example: fried chicken...technique in frying and breading.

    For SOS or chipped beef, it's the topping (beef w/ cream sauce) and the toast and balancing those two things. I'd get some good bread that toasts well and perhaps use from french braising technique for the beef and cream sauce.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ML8000

      Recently while camping I made a variation on this dish. The base was instant mashed potatoes rather than toast. The cream sauce was a Knor mushroom sauce. The meat was canned corned beef - the best brand (in terms of low salt and fat levels) that I could find in an Asian grocery, Ox and Palm brand from Australia. We each combined the three parts to taste.

      You might look at some recipes for stroganoff, which is basically beef in a cream sauce with noodles. The best versions use beef tenderloin trimmings and sour cream (and mushrooms).


    2. Soak the chipped beef in milk to remove the excess salt. Saute onion in butter, add flour to make a roux, stir in milk and lots of pepper. When smooth and thick, add beef, and heat until warm. Serve on toast.

      9 Replies
        1. re: jeanmarieok

          Me too- don't get no better than that.

        2. re: pikawicca

          My mother made hers this way, I always liked it. Sometimes she added peas, too. You know, I have *never* made this! I think I ought to.

          1. re: Georgia Sommers

            You MUST. And if biscuits 'n gravy isn't in your breakfast repertoire, please try that, too--in the name of all that is good 'n bad all at the same time. :)

            1. re: kattyeyes

              Agreed on both fronts. SOS was a childhood favorite and I just started doing biscuits and gravy -- delicie-o-so!

              1. re: kattyeyes

                I haven't made biscuits and gravy in quite a while but I do make a nice pan of sausage gravy! We love b & g with scrambled eggs and oranges. Just in case there's not enough cholesterol in the meal already... ;)

                I am certain that my husband will owe you thanks very soon. I feel a craving coming on.

                1. re: Georgia Sommers

                  HA HA, don't worry about it--not only do I roll similarly, but I make mine cheesy eggs to boot. ;) Not daily or even weekly, of course!

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    I agree -- it's breakfast so you can work off whatever throughout the day!

                    1. re: aguynamedbob

                      Well, it's what was for breakfast at my house this morning - this time (once every Autumn) every year. Mr. suprised me with a version consisting of sauteed onions and garlic, ground sirloin, salt, pepper, worcestershire and beef stock, finished with heavy cream. That much I know for sure; I think he put nutmeg in but he won't say. He served it with pan-toasted English muffins and ONE fried egg so that we could feel virtuous, fresh grapefruit juice and hot coffee. Dang good meal. Staved off lunch for sure. Once or twice he's served it over steak fries, and that was good too. Power-nap ensued.

          2. I just made a variation of a family recipe; all I could remember was: Ground Beef, Can(s) of Cream of Mushroom Soup, and some sort of mushroom.

            I took the liberty of adding onions and sauteed them in <1tsp of butter before browning the meat. After draining the grease, I plopped a can of the mushroom soup into the pan, and mixed it in. Next I added can of mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and soy sauce, and let it sit on low heat for a bit.

            Served over dry toast for ultimate win.

            28 Replies
            1. re: ShanghaiMike

              I ate SOS every day for 4 years in the USAF. The "real deal" is ground beef in white sauce over toast (cheap white bread) with fried eggs on top. Mix up the whole mess, eat and wash down with a glass of half white/half chocolate milk. Then a cup of coffee and the Stars & Stripes military newspaper. Circa Germany 1965.

              1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                I always looked forward to getting served a warm plate of SOS from a mermite off of the back of a Deuce, with the mandatory side of cold green eggs, cold greasy bacon/ham, warm coffee, and a cup of cold orange bug juice. :)

                After sitting overnight in an open OP, a hot plate of SOS and a cup of mud hit the spot.

                  1. re: toodie jane

                    Heh, since you asked for it, here's a bit of information overload...

                    Whenever you're in the field, the dining facility/d-fac/chow hall/mess hall sends out meals in insulated aluminum containers called "mermites".

                    The insulated mermite containers work fairly well at keeping in the heat for at least an hour or so; however, loading up enough food in the back of a truck (called a deuce, a five-ton, a hemmitt, a buffalo, cut-vee, or a humvee) to feed a full cavalry troop, infantry company, or armor company (approximately 150 to 300 men), and getting it to their individual locations, usually takes some time.

                    Also since the pans inside of the mermites are typically aluminum (a reactive metal), the eggs will turn an appetizing shade of grayish-green within an hour.

                    The orange kool-aid, or the watery reconstituted OJ which was sent out with the food is sometimes referred to as "bug juice", because as soon as you set the drink down to eat, there's usually flies, gnats, or some other nasty little vermin helping themselves to your drink.

                    So whenever morning chow arrived at my observation post (OP), I couldn't wait for my smiling sergeant to slop a generous helping of SOS, green eggs and ham or bacon onto my plate with a cold cup of coffee, and/or a warm cup of bug juice. As long as I wasn't stuck eating SOS outside during a sand storm or in the rain, it was all good.

                    1. re: deet13

                      bug juice isn't just a military thing - any kid who's been to summer camp can tell you what it is. come to think of it much of what was served to us from the camp kitchen bore a striking resemblance to SOS...though it was served to us on actual plates :)

                      1. re: deet13

                        I don't think our captain allowed SOS on our submarine, curry with 8 "condiments" , grits and even squirrel but not cream chipped beef.

                  2. re: Mayor of Melonville

                    You da' man.

                    I was never in the military, but my dad was and that's they way he liked his SOS, sans the fried egg, however.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      The Marine Corps makes the best SOS and honestly, Parris Island served up some of the BEST! Coffee and that lovely ground beef SOS over biscuits. Man...takes me back. I've never had another like the Corps, even though my hubby does a fine job. Would love to get my hands on the USMC recipe, even in quantity. I'm sure it's close to the USAF recipe posted later in this thread but I know there are secret seasonings in the USMC version.

                      1. re: Dee S

                        Just mind it doesn't put hair on your chest. ;)

                    2. re: Mayor of Melonville

                      Oh, yum, Mayor, I'll have to try it your way...OK if I just pledge allegiance before I dig in? :) Thank you for serving!

                      Growing up, we either had SOS (with dried beef from the jar) OR creamed eggs. I've since learned I like it even better combined--a good idea from Veggo.

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Hmm, that sounds good - my mom made either SOS (which she very properly called "creamed chipped beef on toast") or creamed eggs on toast a lot when I was a kid, but I never thought to combine them. She always used the corned beef that comes in those little 6oz plastic packages in thin slices, and she would cut the slices into little squares. Yum!

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          Mom called it "chipped beef on toast" but my dad gigglingly called it "Unnh! On a Shingle, JUST like we had in the Navy."

                          "Daddy!" my mom would say. He was trying to avoid swearing in front of us kids, but I think that even was worse! Yikes.

                          Creamed tuna on toast with green peas was the go-to cheap & quick dish at our house, rather than chipped beef. Or fried slices of canned corned beef hash with fried eggs. I still love breakfast for dinner.

                          1. re: toodie jane

                            Your dad sounds like my Dad toodie jane! My Dad said it though, just to get a rise out of my mom. But he added peas, onions - scallions, and the sauce was to die for. Not thick and heavy, just the right amount of milk, and butter. He used jarred chipped beef, tobasco sauce, and toasted the bread to every order. LOTS of black pepper. He'd make eggs, sunnyside up, and his famous hash browns. Sometimes bacon would be on the plate, so there was bacon fat in the sauce. It was always so good. I don't know why but me, when I make it again, I'll add pickled jalapenos, chopped seeds and all, and maybe some fresh sage. Better yet fry the sage and crumble. Use a little thicker homemade bread, buttered. I love SOS, and I know I shouldn't have all that sodium, but for me it is attached to some of my fondest memories.

                            The hamburger with white sauce came later, but not with my Dad, I think it was the mother of my ex at the time, and we served it over mashed potatoes, Mushrooms, and scallions and lots of pepper again. I still love the the SOS like my Dad made best. it would probably work nicely on plain white rice too.

                        2. re: kattyeyes

                          No credit to me. The eggs were my mother's way to make a little bit of chipped beef feed a family of 6 or 7. Similarly, our deviled ham sandwiches were about 70% mashed hard boiled eggs and 30% Underwood product.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Are creamed eggs just hard boiled eggs chopped into a cream sauce? I have about 8 dz eggs and am looking for something different (to us) yet homey and cheap. Thanks M

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                Thanks kattyeyes. Here goes nothing. For such adventurous eaters out of the house, the family can be mighty persnickety at home ;-)

                                1. re: just_M

                                  In our house it was Goldenrod Eggs, where the whites of hardboiled eggs were chopped, mixed with white sauce and served over toast, then the yolks were rubbed through a sieve to make the golden "pollen" on top.

                                  1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                    I think that might work better for our first time. But DD can be brutally honest so I'll just cross my fingers. Hmm maybe serve it on toast points on top of wilted spinach - man I wish I had a touch of bacon!

                                    1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                      Maybe my mom was lazy. Eggies Goldenrod for us were hardboiled eggs quartered on a slice of toast with white sauce on top and a sprinkle of paprika for added color. We loved 'em as kids. Maybe I'll make those for dinner later this week. I had forgotten about them. yum.

                                      1. re: tzurriz

                                        Can I show my ignorance and ask what exactly is "white sauce" or "cream sauce"?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Around age 9, making the white sauce became my job, so here is the recipe as made at our house

                                          2 Tbl butter
                                          2 Tbl flour
                                          1 cup milk

                                          Melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Whisk together quickly until all the flour "disappears". Then whisk in the milk. Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens. Do not allow to boil.

                                          Sometimes, we'd add a teaspoon or so of mustard before the milk, but that's it., It's plain, simple, and yummy.

                                          1. re: tzurriz

                                            That is my recipe precisely. Although I toss in some salt and a lot of black pepper. Also, I'll sub bacon fat for butter whenever possible.

                                            1. re: DiveFan

                                              Yep, Bechamel. Soon as I saw t's recipe, I figured it out. Thanks to both of you.

                                  2. re: just_M

                                    Our creamed eggs were sliced into a cream sauce. My mom sometimes added curry powder for a hint of the exotic.

                              2. re: Mayor of Melonville

                                Mayor, sounds so good and very basic. sometimes you can't screw up something simple.

                              3. re: ShanghaiMike

                                Looks like dreadful prison food. Hopefully it tastes better than it looks.

                              4. This is the recipe I have used for many years:

                                Air Force SOS
                                Serving Size : 6
                                Here is the one I have used for years. I obtained this recipe while living in Germany. It was in a military magazine. The timeframe was in the early 1970s. Everyone who has had it loves it.
                                1 1/2 pounds ground beef
                                1/2 cup flour
                                dash pepper
                                2 teaspoons beef flavored instant bouillon
                                3/4 cup dry milk
                                3 cups warm water
                                1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
                                Brown beef in its own fat in skillet. Drain off excess fat. Add flour, pepper, salt and bouillon to beef; mix thoroughly and cook about 5 minutes or until flour is absorbed. Reconstitute milk; add to beef mixture. Add Worcestershire sauce; heat to a simmer, stirring frequently until thickened.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                  Is this deja vu? After a cold night doing guard duty on the flight line I filled my tray with toast and smothered it with that wonderful S.O.S. - and you have the recipe down perfectly. My wife made me the chipped beef version; ain't the same. I taught her how to do it the Air Force way. I'd dang near re-enlist for a tray full of that stuff but they don't take us when we get as old as I am.
                                  Yeah, I know it's an old thread. But it felt good ......

                                  1. re: todao

                                    I'm glad you view the recipe as perfect for Air Force SOS. All of my Air Force friends agree. You comments also bring back great Air Force memories.

                                    1. re: todao

                                      Todao, my husband (WW II vet) LOVED creamed chipped beef on toast and was happy with the Stouffer's version that comes frozen. Have you tried it?

                                  2. I came up with a variation: creamed curried hardboiled eggs over rice, with soaked and then "frizzled in butter" chipped dried beef. Everyone seemed to enjoy it; at least, it disappeared. Mr. is sorta mid old-school: he prefers lean ground beef crumbled and sauteed with garlic and onions, sauced with good old cream of mushroom soup and milk, served up over english muffins with Frank's Red!Hot!Sauce on the side (or lacking that, green tabasco.) Side of sliced tomatoes; homefries. It'll do, and I don't even mean in a pinch.

                                    1. "Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast" (or "Shit on a Shingle" as my dad called it) is definitely a "blast from the past' for me. Since my dad got paid once a month back in those days (50's/60's), it heralded that creative cooking period the week before payday - lol!!

                                      Mom just added packaged "Chipped Beef" to her own "White Sauce" (aka Bechemel for you purists - lol) & served it on toast. We loved it!!

                                      Another of her almost-payday dishes was "Curried Eggs on Toast", which was the same except for the substitute of sliced hard-boiled eggs for the chippped beef, & the addition of curry powder to the white sauce.

                                      Large green salads were always the traditional accompaniments to both of these dishes.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Breezychow

                                        No way--you got a large green salad with yours? :) Ours was always breakfast and sans greens, but that should remove a little of the guilt from the guilty pleasure. HA HA HA!

                                        In honor of our dear friend Sam--for no special reason except that I have seen his name come up repeatedly this weekend--the SOS we had for his virtual birthday party back in January....feel free to add HBEs to make it even betta!

                                              1. re: todao

                                                haha I thought it might be Happy Birthday Everyone - haha

                                                1. re: just_M

                                                  I thought Happy Birthday but couldn't figure out the E.

                                        1. My mom worked at a truckstop diner in her early years. She used to serve us hot beef sandwiches which was sliced beef on toast with brown gravy and mashed potatoes on the side. That was one of our favorite uses for leftover roast.

                                          I'm not familiar with the article or recipe quoted by the O.P. but I would think you could improve it by making a nice beef gravy using some stock and broth, a roux and some mushrooms. Sweat some onions and at the last add little red wine and a dab of mustard. Add the beef to that and you have a pretty good version. If you want to make it a little closer to creamed beef, add some cream at the last minute.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                            Hank, being a lover of diner food I often make the hot roast beef sandwich with thin-sliced roast beef from the deli counter, beef gravy from a jar, white bread, and any old mashed potatoes. A little coleslaw on the side goes well.

                                          2. The ground beef versions are OK, but it is really worth it to seek out dried beef. The concentrated beef flavor is 'on the way' to beef jerky or machaca.
                                            Hormel and Armour still make it:

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: DiveFan

                                              People! The OP asks about S.O.S....and that is made with ground beef only! All these recipes/versions with chipped dried beef are inferior things called creamed beef, or dried beef with cream gravy, or some other nonsense. True S.O.S. is a military creation and I have the extra 20 lbs or so to prove it. Nothing like S.O.S. with the Stars & Stripes newspaper after a long midnight shift.

                                              Green salad? Good grief. A side of cosmoline maybe.

                                              1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                                                Well it's been creamed chipped beef on toast since at least 1910.


                                                But I don't see why the term can't be applied to both versions. It seems apt enough in either case.


                                                1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                                                  Grandpa Bob was adamant for the chipped beef after he got out of The Service. He bitched and moaned about SOS, but still showed me it was delicious.

                                                  1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                                                    I think it relates to what era we're talking about. I believe the ground beef version is much more modern. My dad served from WWII through Korea, and if you had tried to pass off creamed hamburger as S.O.S., he'd have had a bird. Chipped beef on toast was S.O.S. in those days.

                                                2. there have to be as many versions of this as there are names for it.
                                                  my husband thinks he can cook because even he has a version of this stuff.
                                                  his way is toasting sourdough bread, onions, garlic, hamburger meat, salt pepper, cook until it's no longer pink, add a little beef broth, simmer a while on the stove, then place the warmed toast on a plate, that has a slice of provalone cheese on it and plop the $0$ on it, the hot meat melts the cheese into the bread and don't tell the love of my life, but it's actually quite good...................

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                    My dad loved this stuff, made with dried beef and served on toast or biscuits. This and spam, he learned to like it in the Army during WWII.

                                                    My ex used to tell people he did most of the cooking in our house. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what he was talking about. Turns out whenever he took something I had precooked and frozen (we had a deep freeze) and put it in the microwave to heat it up, he counted that as "cooking".

                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner


                                                  2. Creamed Chip Beef is the official name. The recipe is the same for all the services but as anyone who was in can attest it wasn't always the same consistency. Here is a link to the real recipe: http://www.quartermaster.army.mil/jcc...

                                                    It serves 100 6 ounce portions. The biggest problem with the recipe besides the quantity is obtaining the chipped dried beef. At one time it was available everywhere but now it's usually found in small containers if at all. One thing to remember is that the chipped beef has some salt content and therefore there is no salt listed in the recipe ingredients. If you use ground beef, sausage or any thing else you will need to salt to taste.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                      I had the dried beef version occasionally as a kid. The last time I had it was several years ago, made by my dad. But I look at the price of a jar of dried beef, and continue on down the aisle.


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: SLUMLORD

                                                        I was in the mess kitchen when the change happened. The Navy made the switch last - tradition and all. Well, that and it's hard to get fresh cow in the middle of the ocean.

                                                        SOS is "creamed beef on toast" and the beef can be whatever it is you happen to have available to serve the number of folks who plan to eat. A long time ago (and not so long ago in places that had to store beef a long time) the dried beef was what we had a lot of. Since the mid-70's it's been burger - ground beef is really easy to get. In some DF's it was last night's left over roast. Large amounts of dried chipped beef haven't been so easy (or cheap) to get since the mid-60's like it used to be.

                                                        Basic Recipe (modern Army cook style)
                                                        Brown the ground beef. Drain. Make an amount of light roux for the amount of SOS you plan to make. [a 3tbs fat/3tbs starch + 1cp liquid will feed four and cover up to 1lb of meat]

                                                        Add liquid (water with powdered milk works in a pinch, milk is better, half-half is best) to the roux in proportion to how much you're making. Whisk while bringing heat to medium-high until desired consistency.

                                                        Add beef back in (don't stew the hamburger), salt and pepper to taste. Most folks like this heavy on the pepper. Serve warm over toast. Tabasco on the side. [this will not keep very long before being too thick and is not suitable for storage.]

                                                        old Navy style: (for 4)
                                                        soak 1/2 lb dried beef in water 1 hour then drain well. Shred/chop beef. Reconstitute 1 cup of powdered milk and bring to medium (no boil) - whisk in 2-3 TBS flour or cornstarch (a slurry helps a lot). Stir in beef. Pepper. Simmer to thicken (do not boil!). Serve hot over toast. Do not salt this - there's plenty in dried beef even after soaking.

                                                        same deal as above but bulk sausage, canned corned beef, shredded roast beef, shredded chicken, ground pork, even diced Spam, etc... all work as well. It really doesn't matter what the first "S" is composed of as long as the final outcome sticks to the ribs on the way down.

                                                        Try it with a half-pound of crumbled bacon. mmmmmmm But don't serve that in the EM mess, that'd spoil 'em and they eat too much anyway.

                                                        The "shingle" can be just about anything breadlike too. Why toasted? Best way to get rid of the stale bread you're not using in a "stuffing" or burger-filler tonight.

                                                        PS: the "secret ingredient" at Paris Island is that water they have. Try sea salt instead of table salt in your recipe. Also, they would tend to use some of the fat from the beef in the roux mix and not a fresh pan with fresh fat.