HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Am I the only one who loves SOS?

  • e

Growing up my dad used to buy those little packages of dried beef in the supermarket and make creamed chipped beef on toast or biscuits. It was one of my favorite meals. When I found local Amish dried beef I started making my own. But other than my immediate family, I don't know anyone who likes it. I've served it with great joy to friends on occasion but only later found out that they ate it just to be polite. I felt terrible (and slightly embarrased?). I use the recipe from the 1970's Joy of cooking, which suits me just fine, and serve on thick sliced toasted whole wheat or white. Does anyone else besides me have a fondness for this stuff?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like it - I've had it a couple of times in the last year or so, at our grocery store's breakfast bar. It's served over biscuits, here. I remember my mom used to make it when I was a kid, and I didn't like it much then, though. I hear Stouffer's is pretty good, too.

      1. Growing up my mom used to make creamed chicken (not beef) on toast and it was also one of my favorite meals. Usually had it the day after we had roast chicken for supper. I learned how to make a cream sauce from her with that recipe. Yummy.

        1. I like SOS also.
          Unfortunately it picked up a bad reputation when served cafeteria style and in Military "Chow" halls. It was made from pieces beef and other meats that didn't make it in other dishes, and earned the name "Sh%$ on a Shingle" from the very poor prep.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hannaone

            Add to that "very poor prep" that many times it was/is made like wallpaper paste, too.

          2. if make from fresh ingred. i like it too
            it is the same with it's cousin chicken ala king, if fresh it's great if it that pre prepared kind
            it's chicken ala puke

            1. Ellen: I love it--or at least a variation on the theme. Growing up, my Dad would make it on occasional Sunday mornings. His variation involved sautéing onions in butter, stirring in flour, adding part (I add all) of a can of cheddar cheese soup OR shredded cheddar cheese, then stirring in buttermilk, after that he added torn-up Armour Dried Beef from the jar, part of a jar of sliced pimentos (I add it all) or sliced up pimento-stuffed olives, and finally mushrooms (jarred or previously lightly sautéed). At the end, off-heat, he stirred in half a pint or so of sour cream. (Adjust seasoning if necessary, there is plenty of salt in the dried beef and other ingredients, but you may want to add freshly ground pepper or Tabasco.) Dad served it over toasted English muffins. Totally decadent! We call it Grandpa's Goop now. I still make it (and so do my children, but rarely because it is so rich)---sometimes for brunch, sometimes for dinner with a green or fruit salad. My Dad (now 88) still makes it every once in awhile, but he has pared it way down and we have definitely cut down the serving sizes. But it is sooooo good. ~twimc

              1. I have eaten that! My mother bought jarred dried beef, and served it with a white gravy/sauce. She served it over regular white bread. It was both salty and creamy, and if you use lots of pepper, it is OK. At this point in my life, the heavy salt in the meat just puts me off.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sueatmo

                  I wonder if you can soak it and then rinse off some of the salt.

                  1. re: yayadave

                    i have rinsed it before and it does help. reduces the salt but you don't lose any of the beef flavor. kinda like salt cod. oh, and i too love SOS!

                2. I very much like my own version of the Army recipe which, when I was in the service, had replaced chipped beef with hamburger. I use home-made gravy, which is miles ahead of cream sauce made with powdered milk. Of course, the gravy needs trace amounts of such things as thyme, sage, oregano, Kitchen Bouquet, celery powerder, garlic powder and onion powder

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                    SOS....I LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT! It was a breakfast staple food at our house when I was growning up. It was sometimes made with chipped beef, but more often than not it was made with hamburger. I think that being kids, we just preferred anything made with hamburger over other meats. I still make this stuff about twice a year just as comfort food. I must say that the Stouffer's product is excellent....if you can deal with all the sodium. But, what the hell.....I say if you are going to eat such foods on occasion go for it with gusto, and for that once in a blue moon breakfast/lunch/dinner, make it the way you love it and forget the fats and sodium. Would I make this every day? No way! But, when do make it, I have no reservations about going "all the way" with a side of greasy home fries or overly buttery grits. White bread is a must:) Also, LOTS of pepper!

                  2. Yes I like creamed chipped beef on toast. I don't like SOS. SOS being the variety described by hannaone and yayadave. Ellen maybe you also might enjoy this recipe found via a Google search. It calls for, like yours, dried beef (not ground beef) and, chopped parsley, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Here's the link (below) to that recipe from about.com. Serving suggestion also calls for serving over rice.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: crt

                      I believe that it is true that SOS isn't Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast but a type of ground meat or Salisbury Steak on toast in gravy. It certainly does resemble the epithet more closely.

                      On a boating rendezvous we were stuck for a contribution to a potluck breakfast. We had two jars of beef and my wife made CCBOT. When we took it up everyone joked and laughed. I was about 6 back in line and when I got there there was none left, and the recipe would have served 10. When one gets past the wisecracks, CCB is good eats.

                      1. re: Gualtier Malde

                        Back in Minnesota, ground beef in gravy was "Beef Commercial", and was a common hot school lunch, served over mashed potatoes. I did a Google search and "Beef Commercial" is apparently a midwest thing, and not very well known.

                        And I believe SOS was reserved for dried chipped beef.

                        Edit: I now remember Beef Commercial was white bread, topped with mashed potatoes, and then ground beef gravy on top. Lots of carbs for those cold MN winters.

                    2. The first picture below is how I remember what SOS looked like that was served in the Air Force chow halls at the many bases I was stationed at. The second is what a plate of creamed chipped beef on toast (CCBOT) should typically look like. And the third is what the dried beef that should be used in CCBOT looks like (usually comes in a jar). I'm sure there are variations, but traditional creamed chipped beef on toast is not made with ground beef.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: crt

                        Your photos are right on, crt. As a matter of fact I'm almost certain that the hamburger(real SOS) came first in my home as a kid. My dad was in the Navy during the latter part of WWII, and this "food" was never called "SOS". The actual words were spoken :) I was born not too many years after the war ended. I do recall him speaking of this being served in mess halls. I think it was my mother who subterfuged the "real" ingredient when jarred chipped beef became available from Hormel in the grocery stores. I'm sure she also wished that dad would quit using "SOS" to define the dish....LOL!

                        1. re: Deepster

                          I LOVE SOS!!!!! As I said in another post (favorite frozen meal?), I'll get Stouffer's once in a while. In fact, because of this post and the above pictures, my mouth is now watering for it, and I'm going to have to get another box. Oh, the pain -
                          : )

                        2. re: crt

                          The dried-beef SOS was also a staple in our house, often with chopped HB egg which made it even better. I also was introduced to the USAF variation my first breakfast at Lackland, and fell in love with that too. My favorite thing to do was to get hashbrowns, drop two over-easy eggs on top of that, then get a scoop of SOS over all of it. With biscuits (when they had'em) it was even better.

                          I don't think I'd ever serve this as party food (though I did serve creamed chicken over biscuits at one family gathering which was well received), but it's yet another family favorite that Mrs. O had never tasted until I made some for her - her dad, the family chef, had despised it as fit only for the rabble - and she loves it too.

                          1. re: crt

                            Oh, yes, picture number 2 is perfect! I remember this dish with great fondness. While not haute cuisine, it's tasty! My mother served it over white bread toast. As an adult I make it once or twice a year as comfort food, and my only change is to add lots of freshly ground black pepper.

                            Mmmm mmmm good!

                          2. Real comfort food. My mom made it with ground beef instead of chipped beef. She also made it with chicken and tuna in a creamy white sauce. Creamed beef on toast was a staple in our house when the kids were growing and eating like baby birds - always hungry.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Pampatz

                              I wonder where the dividing line is between "Creamed something" and "Something gravy." For example, when I make it with chicken, I call it "Chicken Gravy."

                              1. re: yayadave

                                White gravy is white gravy. Whether you start with sausage, ground beef, chicken, or chipped beef, the basic bechamel is the same.

                                1. re: Ellen

                                  But somewhere along the line it gets called "Creamed Beef" and not "Chopped Beef Gravy."

                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    I grew up in Houston and mom called it "creamed beef", hence that's what I call it even though I use no cream.

                                2. re: yayadave

                                  We always had this at home when I was growing up, Mom used the dried beef not ground beef. She also made "Creamed Eggs" , where she would slice 8 - 9 hard boiled eggs and put in the gravy til warm and served that over toast or biscuits. CCBOT is my wife and daughters favorite breakfast, and they always get it at our favorite little local restaurant for breakfast when we go. I make CCBOT or Creamed Eggs once or twice a month

                              2. I love it, alwats have. Even better than toast is a hot fluffy biscuit even English muffins. There must be enough of us out there that do like it or Stouffer's would not be producing it frozen.

                                1. Love it - but on a biscuit!

                                  1. Absolutely not! Mom used to make it for us kids and we loved it...still do. It's one of those comfort foods I still make for a quick dinner on a cold night. One day Mom was running short on time and made the mistake of making it for dinner. When Dad (who spent four years in the Army) got home there was Hell to pay...forever known in our family and "The Great Chipped Beef Incident". The story gets told almost every holiday get-together.

                                    1. Any thumbs I have or can recruit are turned up for this dish. Delicious comfort food, and a dish that remembers being frugal, which we don't alway do in our quest for new tastes.

                                      I'm jazzed about SOS currently because I bought a 1943 copyright book "Army Food and Messing: The Complete Manual of Mess Management" and have been reading through the recipes. Recipes for 100, might I point out. Creamed chipped beef is in there, and I am salivating. (Marvelous book, by the way and fascinating in its exactitude wrt food.)

                                      Anyone who hasn't tried SOS, should (if able). Maybe it will be the next trendy thing!


                                      1. I love this stuff too! To me it's a winter comfort food breakfast. Our only variation is that we work cheddar cheese into the basic white sauce. We use the thin Buddig lunchmeat beef and cut it into thin strips and then serve over toast. Lots of white pepper too!

                                        1. How could you not like it.

                                          So long as it's done right that is.

                                          I noticed on a recent episode of DD&D the place Guy was at served it. He loved it.


                                          1. Oh wow!!! There is nothing, once in a little while, than SOS!!!! I sometime's also put in a little grated sharp cheddar cheese for some little twist. Of course you also have to have an egg with it fryed up medium yolk!! Now look what you did...I just might have to make this for dinner.....off to the kitchen

                                            1. A friend from work introduced me to a vegetarian version of this... Creamed asparagus on toast. Pretty good stuff.

                                              1. Creamed anything on something is a happy happy food - lately I've been creaming things like tuna on grilled eggplant slices - probably heresy, but tasty and without that "I just consumed some Portland cement" feeling.

                                                1. Funny, my husband was just asking me the other day about this - looks like I'm stopping at the store on the way home. It's chipped beef for dinner tonight!!

                                                  1. Chalk up another with fondness for this dish. There was an Amish Market close by that had the best Creamed Chipped Beef anywhere(don't tell my Mom or my Mom-in-law).

                                                    I even enjoyed what my UNCLE SAM called Creamed Beef(SOS) but was as previuosly noted made with "hamburger" meat. It was a gratefull change from "rubber" eggs..

                                                    A question, is this beef salted as a perservative or just air dried for extented for shelf life...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Hue

                                                      The beef I've gotten from Amish markets has been both salted and dried, but never excessivley salted. Just enough that I don't have to add salt to the finished product. Ask them to taste it first so you can tell how salty it's going to be and whether you like the flavor of their beef. There can be big differences in taste from one purveyor to another. I prefer mine to eating it out because I probably use a higher ratio of beef to sauce than most restaurants serve.They tend to dilute it with too much gravy.

                                                    2. I forecast that Sundays breakfast will be CCB on fluffy biscuits ( thanks for that idea Candy and Cookiefiend) topped with grated sharp cheddar cheese. YUM YUM

                                                      Breakfast will be followed by a power nap or a long hike in the woods. It depends on how quickly I get moving after eating!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                        I've been thinking about sos for Sunday breakfast ever since this post came up. And a power nap will probably be in order. But they're predicting a high of 16 degrees F, so the walk is out for me. More like a perfect day to hang in the kitchen warmed by cookies in the oven and watch those guys running around in the cold and snow of Green Bay and New England.

                                                      2. Who'd a 'thunk' it Ellen? Your topic has proven definately that you are not the only one who loves 'SOS', or more appropriately creamed chipped beef. Some foods/dishes never really go out of style. Sometimes they are just forgotten about. Then comes along someone like yourself who reminds us of that food/dish from long ago that brings back a lot of great memories. This truly has been a wonderful topic. May sound silly, but thanks for thinking that you were the only one who loved SOS!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: crt

                                                          You're quite welcome. It looks like it won't go out of style after all, even if it is getting harder to find good dried beef these days now that I don't live near an Amish market. Now, about that other retro favorite: corned beef hash with two eggs over easy on top....

                                                        2. When I was a kid, my grade school cafeteria would have chipped beef on toast at least once a week. I LOVED it and everyone else hated it. I ate well on those days. BTW. I also loved the creamed spinich with little pieces of egg in it. I got a lot of that stuff from the other kids, also. Overland Park grade school - Miss Harrison was principal.

                                                          1. There was a thread on the Seattle.eats Usenet group a while back on this very subject. The consensus there was that a restaurant called Galloping Gertie's, down in Pierce County right outside the Fort Lewis gates, makes a particularly fine version. I still haven't tried theirs, but it's on my list.

                                                            1. my father was on military served and i loved that SOS always eat during supper time . Hardly eat breakfast and now i tried looking recipes that my father made ground beef and flour and others ...if anyone know SOS recipe i want some .. i miss that sos !

                                                              1. My mom made it, from the jars of chipped beef that she briefly blanched in hot water to leach out some of the salt, chopped, and put in a homemade bechamel, on toast or baked potatoes. I love it so much, when the cafeteria @ work started serving it (over a biscuit) for breakfast on Thursdays I got it every time until I put myself on a mandatory diet. I still love it more than most things.

                                                                Stouffer's is good, but there's not enough beef in it.

                                                                1. Love it, always hope it's on deck for brunch when we go home to family in Iowa. They get gorgeous dried beef there - comes in large, thin slices. Toast or homemade biscuits please, preferably the latter.

                                                                  1. Growing up, we loved it more than just about anything. Mom would serve it over toast for breakfast, but for dinner, we always had it over boiled potatoes, and always with peas. It is also good over baked potatoes or home fries. Carbs! Yum. She taught me the rule of 4: 4 oz. drief beef, 4 Tbsp. butter, 4 Tbps. flour, 2-1/2 cups milk. It hasn't failed me in 35+ years of cooking. I buy my dried beef from a special butcher these days, as the little plastic pouches in the supermarket have less than 4 oz. these days, and I find them overly salty.