Creamed Chipped Beef
This is a dish that earned it’s bad reputation from poorly done versions served to military personnel during World War II. Creamed chipped beef can be dismal when poorly executed, but with a little care, it’s nothing short of genuine all-American comfort food and a snap to prepare.
Because the recipe only uses a few ingredients, the quality of the end result depends on starting with the right ingredients. This means real butter and whole – not reduced fat – milk. The type of beef also matters. Dried, salted and thinly sliced beef can be found in every supermarket and works perfectly well. If you’re lucky enough to find a butcher shop that makes it’s own salted, dried beef for this, even better. Most of us aren’t that lucky and the supermarket brands found in vacuum packed jars or packages will do just fine.
Since the beef is salted, it requires a brief rinsing under warm tap water before adding to the cream sauce. Don’t skip this step or the final dish will be very salty, but don’t soak the beef in hot water or the dish will be too bland. Taking care to prepare the white sauce for the beef is also critical. Cooking the flour in the butter for a moment or two before adding the milk is important to avoid a white sauce that tastes pasty.
The final dish can be served over toast, mashed potatoes, biscuits or scrambled eggs, but always with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. This is a dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd and is perfect for buffet serving.
Creamed Chipped Beef
¼ cup butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 ½ cups whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon sherry
4-6 ounces dried chipped beef (from jars or vacuum package)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Slice the beef into wide strips and place in a strainer. Run under hot water, separating the strips to rinse well. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat just until it begins to turn light brown. Add the flour and continue to cook over medium heat for a minute, stirring the entire time.
Add the milk all at once while whisking and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the sherry and nutmeg, cook one more minute and add the drained beef strips. Stir to combine and remove from the heat.
Serve over toast, mashed potatoes, biscuits or scrambled eggs with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.