Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hang Out Your Shingle

In the Army they used to call it SOS, “[bleep] on a shingle.” It is really creamed chipped beef on toast and it can be a sensational breakfast or brunch dish if prepared with just a modicum of care. First you have to acquire some real dried chipped beef (or jerky). I say "real" for the brand I often used was Beardsley’s. Unfortunately it is no longer available … another casualty of the food Nazis. (I bought a bunch of it on close-out at Ocean State Job Lot). Don’t be tempted to use Armour’s chipped beef. It’s a reconstituted product made from minced beef pressed back into a sheet with some kind of binder. So, you probably must go on the Internet to find the real thing. May I suggest trying Carson's or Knauss Snack Foods (the original maker of Beardsley’s). I can’t really vouch for either since I still have my larder stocked with aging Beardsley’s, so caveat emptor.

To prepare this wonderful dish, generally follow the following steps:

- Soak the dried beef in cold water for about 10 minutes to remove some of the salt.
- Mince a small onion and a small Italian pepper (or half a larger one)
- Sauté the onion and the pepper in a large frying pan in about half a stick of butter until the onion is translucent.
- Sprinkle this mixture with about about two heaping tablespoons of flour (or Wondra). Stir and heat until the flour turns a light brown.
- Gradually add about one cup of milk (1% is fine), stirring vigorously, and heat until this mixture thickens.
- Drain, dry, roughly chop, and add the dried chipped beef.
- Then add about three grinds of black (or white) pepper and ½ a teaspoon of dried thyme (or one teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme)
- Give this mixture about four or five squirts of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce..
- Heat thoroughly and taste for salt. Be careful about adding any more salt.

Serve on four buttered toast points made with a good quality rustic white or whole wheat bread (more generously than that pictured). Goes well with a good hot cup of coffee and a fresh-cut fruit cup.

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