BVC Eats: COMFORT FOOD Shit on a Shingle

Like all comfort food from my childhood, this is kinda gross, but I loved it. Squishy, salty, peppery, a little sweet from the bread and peas…omg now I want some, and it’s got about six things in it I shouldn’t eat.

Come to think of it, Shit on a Shingle (also known as SOS, also known as creamed chipped beef on toast) only has about six things in it. Like all good 50s comfort foods, there’s very few fresh nutrients in it. You definitely want the stuff that comes all dried up in a jar like this. (Plus, the jar can be reused as a juice glass! We had dozens of them.) Frozen peas. Cheap bread. My mom used margarine, of course, because I suppose in 1960 that was either a) health food or b) cheaper.

Shit on a shingle was an old servicemen’s staple—my dad was in the Navy, but he knew and loved it as much as the nearest Army guy. They probably used powdered milk, too. Although in WWII, the boys got most of the butter, which was rationed for civilians. Nice to know Uncle Sam was giving them some good stuff.

You can find a bunch of versions of the recipe here, but some of those people are nuts. They add vegetables. They try to reduce the fat.

Well, here is the correct and classic version.

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

serves 2 or 3 hungry folks

1 jar (4.5 oz) dried beef
small can (6 oz or less) new young green peas
1 cup milk
3 T butter
3 T white flour
pepper to taste

2 slices soft bread per person, toasted just before serving

Drain the can of peas. Reserve the liquid in case your white sauce comes out too thick.

Slice or dice the dried beef—I think my mom used to quarter the rounds.

Make a white sauce thusly: melt the butter in a heavy pan. Add the flour and whisk briskly. Let the flour cook a bit until it begins to turn yellow. Add the milk and whisk briskly until the sauce thickens.

Stir in the sliced beef and peas. If the mixture is too thick, thin it with a dash of the canned pea liquid.

Season with pepper.

Pour over piping hot toast, two slices per serving.

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BVC Eats: COMFORT FOOD Shit on a Shingle — 5 Comments

  1. My mother remembere_ this fon_ly from her 1930’s childhood, an_ would sometimes serve it, only she use_ the Stouffers frozen variety, an_ often serve_ it on bake_ potatoes.

    My high school sometimes serve_ it as well… but that was more like little pinky-brown flecks of unspecifie_ protein swimming in library paste. Yours looks much better.

  2. This was a staple in our household in the 50s. Cheap so it served a family of 6 on a military man’s salary at least once a week, often twice or three times. The bread can be slightly stale too, so it doesn’t go to waste.

    Only difference, my mom used frozen peas. They hold their texture and flavor better than tinned. And sometimes she served it over rice. Rice was another staple we used a lot instead of bread. Dad had sailed the China Seas before, during, and after WWII and developed a taste for rice with everything.

    Now I want to fix this for dinner.

  3. My brother-in-law was horrified when told that’s what we were having for dinner, though in my family, “creamed chipped beef on toast” was the name. I never heard either of my parents use the s-word! LOL!

    But he also said it was delicious, and nothing like what he had served to him in the Air Force. My mom made it like yours, only without the peas.

    I’ve been thinking about it lately, for some reason. Haven’t cooked it in many years. Probably last on a long ago camping trip with our kids.

  4. My Dad knew this from his Navy years in WWII. When Mom was working or sick, SOS was one of the things Dad would make for the family to eat. (Mom would occasionally make it as a regular dinner as well. As noted, cheap, simple and quick.)

    One of the other Navy things Dad would make when he cooked was broiled bacon. Dredge thick-sliced bacon in flour and put under the broiler. You had to watch it carefully; sometimes the bacon grease — the flour helped keep it from spattering, but not always enough — would catch fire, and then it was a scramble to smother it before it smoked up the kitchen.

    Another simple dinner dish I remember from childhood was “Welsh Rabbit”, cheese gravy over toast.