Creamed chipped beef on toast is a popular breakfast dish in the United States. It is most commonly served in diners in the northeast, where I lived most of my life, though it can be found in other areas of the country as well. It consists of a form of dried cured beef swimming in a simple white gravy (which is similar to a bechamel sauce) poured over toast. Sometimes scrambled eggs are first placed over the toast and the creamed chipped beef is poured over top.
It seems to have originated at some point during World War II, when it was served to many military companies daily, and at times was served for every meal. The reason for this was that it was quick to prepare, and the meat was cured so it was easy to keep a large supply on hand without worrying about spoilage. Soldiers are said to have had a love hate relationship with it. Many of them enjoyed it but certainly got sick of eating the same thing all the time. These soldiers are said to be the people who coined the popular nickname of this dish “Shit on a Shingle”, because, as unappetizing as it may sound, it kinda looks like bird poop on a roof shingle. Please do not let this funny factoid scare you away. It is totally delicious!
Much to my dismay it is purely USA fare and I now live in Canada. It just doesn’t feel right to go out to breakfast and not see it on the menu. Luckily for me, however, it is super easy to prepare. The only problem is that the main ingredient, the dried beef, is also only sold in the USA. So, as with so many other foods, I must buy a bunch whenever I venture south of the border. Sigh. So if you want to try to make this, despite the lovely nickname, and you do not live in the USA you are probably out of luck, unless you can take a trip or have it shipped to you somehow. If you live in the USA you should have no problem finding dried beef in the grocery store.
This recipe yields four servings. Each serving consisting of one piece of toast and a quarter of the creamed chipped beef. Typically, each person is served two servings, so two pieces of toast and half of the gravy, but if you want more protein in your meal, and this is how I prefer to serve it, just serve each person one piece of toast, top it with scrambled eggs and then the gravy. So depending on how you are going to serve it, this recipe serves two to four people. Since simply serving it over two pieces of toast is the classic way, that is the style I will prepare for this article.
Dried Beef (about half a jar or 2.5 oz)
No, I do not mean beef jerky or steak that has been left out to dry. Dried beef is a specific product. Sometimes it is called “Chipped Beef” or “Dried Chipped Beef”, It is a cured product that resembles salami and pepperoni, but unlike those items, it does not taste good when eaten as is. It is extremely salty. It is pretty much exclusively manufacture to be used in Creamed chipped beef, but there are other recipes out there that have been designed with it in mind (I’m not sure what those rolls are on the jar, but that certainly isn’t creamed chipped beef). When simmered in the gravy, much of the salt is released from the meat. This seasons the gravy perfectly and therefor, you do not have to add any salt at all.
Typically, it is sold in these little 5 oz jars. For this recipe half a jar is perfect. You may use more or less if you wish, but keep in mind the salt content.
2 cups Milk
Anything from skim to whole will work. You could even use cream if you want.
2 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
Or up to three if you want the sauce a bit thicker.
Bread (To make toast)
One slice per serving. Since this recipe is for four servings of creamed chipped beef, you’ll need four pieces of bread to use it all.
It is far more lovely to use homemade bread, and I usually do, but sometimes even I buy a loaf from the store. Also, I like to use whole wheat bread but white bread is ok too.
I would like to add that creamed chipped beef, implies that it is over toast. That is the classic method of serving it. However, sometimes it is served over waffles, and it is not unheard of for it to be served over breakfast biscuits. (No, English people, not cookies. Think scones.)
Put 2 cups of cold milk into a jar and add two to three tablespoons of flour. Place the lid on the jar and shake it up well until the flour and milk are well combined.
The chipped beef can be use as is, in whole pieces as they came out of the jar, or you can slice them into smaller strips or squares. I like to cut them into strips. You may cut them or not depending on your preference.
Add the dried beef and stir it around, allowing it to saute gently for a minute in the butter. You do not want to cook it too much or really put much, if any colour on it, you just want to warm it up and get the juices flowing.
Stir occasionally as it comes up to heat. Bring it up to a boil, at which point you will notice it thicken. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent the bottom from burning and to keep everything evenly mixed.
After the simmer take the creamed chipped beef off of the heat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This will allow it to thicken further and cool off a bit. It is not good to pour it piping hot onto your toast because it will just make the toast extra soggy. It should be served pleasantly warm.
This is the perfect time to make your toast.
CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF
Dried Beef (about half a jar or 2.5 oz)
2 cups Milk
2 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour (or up to 3 for extra thick gravy)
Bread (To make toast) (two pieces per person)
1. Put 2 cups of cold milk into a jar and add two to three tablespoons of flour. Place the lid on the jar and shake it up well until the flour and milk are well combined.
2. Cut the dried beef into strips or squares.
3. Over medium heat, melt butter in a pot. Add the dried beef and stir it around, allowing it to saute gently for a minute in the butter.
4. Pour all of the milk and flour mixture into the pot.
5. Stir occasionally as it comes up to heat. Bring it up to a boil, at which point you will notice it thicken. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring as needed. Add black pepper to taste.
6. After the simmer take the creamed chipped beef off of the heat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
7. While the sauce is resting make your toast.
8. Put two pieces of toast onto a plate and spoon half of the creamed chipped beef over them.