Modern chipped beef product, showing coiled packing
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Chipped beef is thinly sliced or pressed salted and dried beef. Some makers smoke the dried beef for more flavor. The modern product consists of small, thin, flexible leaves of partially dried beef, generally sold compressed together in jars or flat in plastic packets. The processed meat producer Hormel once described it as "an air-dried product that is similar to bresaola, but not as tasty."
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Chipped beef is served in many diners and restaurants in the United States as a breakfast item. Creamed chipped beef is standard fare on many such diner menus, especially in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but has become harder to find in chain restaurants that serve breakfast; among the restaurants still offering chipped beef on toast are Golden Corral and Silver Diner. IHOP no longer offers this on their menus, having substituted sausage gravy, and the same is true for Cracker Barrel restaurants. It is also available from companies such as Stouffer's in a frozen form which can be put on top of separately-prepared toast; It is typically quite salty. For instance, Stouffer's creamed chipped beef contains 590 mg sodium per 5.5 ounces (160 g) serving. The mixture was also, at one point, available from both Freezer Queen and Banquet as "hot sandwich toppers"; as of late 2007, Freezer Queen no longer makes this product, and the Banquet variety is rarely found. Finally, both the Esskay Meat Company of Baltimore and Knauss Foods make a refrigerated version of creamed chipped beef which can be easily microwaved. The meat itself is also available for purchase under the Knauss and Carson's Brand names.
Chipped beef on toast
U.S. military cuisine
Chipped beef on toast (or creamed chipped beef on toast) is a culinary dish comprising a white sauce and rehydrated slivers of dried beef, served on toasted bread. Hormel recommends flavoring the dish with Worcestershire sauce and dried parsley. In military slang it is commonly referred to by the dysphemism "Shit On a Shingle" (SOS)—or, "Stew On a Shingle", "Same Old Stuff", "Something On a Shingle", or occasionally "Save Our Stomachs". Chipped beef is also often served on bagels, English muffins, biscuits, home fries, rice, and in casseroles.
Wentworth and Flexner cite no origin, but noted "shingle" for slice of toast has had "some use since 1935" in the U.S. Army, mostly in the expression "shit on a shingle", and the latter had "wide World War II Army use".
In the United States, chipped beef on toast was emblematic of the military experience, much as pea soup is in Finland or Sweden. Chipped beef on toast (S.O.S.) is the title of a book of military humor. In his World War II book Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose evokes the military basics:
At the end of May, the men of Easy packed up their barracks bags and … [took] a stop-and-go train ride to Sturgis, Kentucky. At the depot Red Cross girls had coffee and doughnuts for them, the last bit of comfort they would know for a month. They marched out to the countryside and pitched up tents, dug straddle trenches for latrines, and ate the Army's favorite meal for troops in the field, creamed chipped beef on toast, universally known as SOS, or Shit on a Shingle.
- Biscuits and gravy
- Chipped beef on toast, a historical 1910 US Army recipe for preparing "enough for 60 men"
- List of dried foods
- List of military food topics
- List of sandwiches
- "Dried Beef Products". Hormel. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- "Creamed Chipped Beef". Stouffer's.
- Wentworth, Harold; Stuart Berg Flexner (1967). Dictionary of American Slang (supplemented ed.). New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell.
- Bertram, Charles S. (2003). Chipped Beef on Toast (S.O.S.). ISBN 0-7414-1554-2.
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (2001-06-06). Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-1645-8. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
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