Monday, May 29, 2006

Sauerbratten and Armed Forces Recipe Service

I received this email from Davis Boshart:

I am a former CS-2 and served on the Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) from '69-'72. I helped de-commission her. Recently I tried to remember how to do sauerbraten beef which was a recipe in the standardized recipe file. I came close but the flavor wasn't what I remembered. How do I get a copy of that recipe? For that matter is there a chance of getting a complete set of those cards? I look forward to hearing from you on this; any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for writing, David. I too remember cooking sauerbraten, although it wasn't one of my favorites. I like the sharpness that the vinegar adds, but the dish looses it for me once you add the gingersnaps.

I'll post the recipe tonight.

Armed Forces Recipe Service

The US Armed Forces Recipe Service is a wonderful recipe resource. I used them throughout my 29-year active and reserve career with the US Navy. I use them each summer at camp. You can find the AFRS on the Internet at

Each recipe is written for 100 portions and gives you:
  • Number of pans per 100 portions
  • Pan size in common US pan sizes
  • Serving size, usually in ounces, cups or pieces
  • Oven temperature for baked items
  • Ingredient list on the left-hand column
  • Weight and volume of each ingredient for 100 portions--on these cards, each preparation step is tied to one or more ingredients in the two center columns
  • Preparation method delineated in clear steps in the right-hand column
  • Notes at the end of the recipe that list alternative ingredients (especially dehydrated) and preparation notes. Most notable are: "as purchased" (A.P.) and "edible portion" (E.P.) amounts are given here
  • Variations to the recipe--often, these variations are for dehydrated and other special foods that the US military buys
Although I have a number of AFRS sets from the 1950s to the 1990s, I most often use the Internet version of AFRS when planning an event. I print each recipe so I can write purchasing, production and serving notes right on the recipe. Since I rarely cook for exactly 100 persons (and the fact that serving sizes can be hefty), I also make adjustments to ingredients and note that right on my printed sheet. After the event, I save all the printed recipes in a file as a record of the event.

In addition to giving you standard ingredient amounts and instructions, the big advantage with AFRS is purchasing. Anytime you need to know how many pounds of an item serves 100 persons, just look it up on AFRS. (Remember that servings per hundred are always tied to serving size.) Once you have a basic understanding of ingredients, amounts and method, you can easily add that special ingredient or two that sends the recipe "over the top."

As for collecting complete recipe sets: AFRS is very difficult to locate, especially on eBay. I'm not curtain that I've every purchased a 5- x 8-inch AFRS set on eBay. Most AFRS sets in my collection were acquired during my 29-year career in the Navy. A retired chief commissarryman gave me one or two sets before he passed on.

AFRS is now available on CD for less than $10. I purchased a set in Adobe Acrobat last year from eBay. A CD is available right now for $9.99 with the "Buy it Now" feature of eBay. Search on the keywords "Navy recipe" and you'll find it. A few dollars saves you the time of individually downloading each recipe from the naval supply website. It's a valuable addition to any culinary library, especially if you cook for large groups.

MSCS Steven C. Karoly, USN, Ret

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