Monday, December 10, 2012

Creamed ground beef

Each year I receive two or three requests for the old military recipe for creamed beef. Known as SOS or "stuff" on a shingle, most ask for the recipe from the time period of their service to this great nation. In view of a recent request for a recipe that's suitable for a "small family," I have posted such a recipe. It's based on one pound of ground beef, which should be sufficient for the average family.

Click for the recipe for 100 portions if you need to serve a crowd. It's based on the 1969 U.S. Armed Forces Recipe Service card No. L-30.

I "enjoyed when it was served in the (CPO) mess," wrote a retired Navy chief petty officer.


1 pound ground beef
5-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons beef base
3-1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Brown beef in its own fat in an saucepan or skillet. Drain excess fat. Add flour, pepper and beef base to beef. Mix thoroughly and cook until flour is absorbed.

Add milk and Worcestershire sauce to beef mixture. Heat to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serves 4 to 6.


  1. My mom used to make a version of that for us a lot when we were kids and poor...she used dried beef, and called it dried beef gravy. The dried beef came cooked and sliced very thin like if you got some prosciutto sliced thin from the deli and jammed in a small glass with a metal lid. Probably more like a super thin beef jerky. It was very cheap and very salty so you almost had to make some gravy (basic white sauce or roux with milk) to tone it down. After a few times it also meant you had a small set of glasses to drink from. I think armour still makes it that way and there is a small row of stars around the top of the glass.

  2. Tyrone, you have described traditional U.S. military "stuff" on a shingle, or SOS. In the Navy, dried chipped beef came in a frozen 5- or 10-pound block (I forget which). We'd drop it in a steam kettle of boiling water to leach out the salt, and then stir the meat into a B├ęchamel. We rarely added salt! The chipped beef was shaved as you described.

  3. This has been a family favorite; it was one of my dad's signature dishes that I love and made my own. I now use garlic salt, butter, and evaporated milk.