My husband joined the navy at the age of 16. After training, he was assigned to a ship and put to work in the galley. Not the adventure he'd imagined when he enlisted, but the experience served him well.
The navy fed her sailors afloat very well. My fella had learned good basic cooking skills from his mom, and in school (he was the very first male Home Ec student in his school district) and the navy further refined them. By the time he returned to civilian life my guy was a competent saucier, knew the rudiments of butchering, could cook an excellent meal, and was an accomplished baker.
Cooking aboard a ship is governed by some limitations that one simply doesn't encounter in a home kitchen. Space is limited, weather and the ship's motion can make even the most basic tasks a challenge, and storage is limited. So, while fresh food is served as much as possible, there are times when conditions require that the cooks fall back upon staples in storage. When that happens, old standards from the military menu are likely to appear on mess trays.
One of those storage staple standards is SOS - Stuff on a Shingle (although sailors do not say it so politely).
Creamed chipped beef on toast: I haven't heard of a single branch of the service that doesn't serve it from time to time. Made with rehydrated dried chipped beef and canned milk, it provides a filling meal when fresh meat is not readily available.
Oddly, while it may not sound very appealing, many military folk develop a real liking for SOS and will continue to enjoy it even after they return to civilian life. My guy is one of them: He misses this old standard dish.
Chipped beef is about as common as unicorn horns hereabouts so, if my fella wants to replicate the flavour of SOS, he needs to do so with fresh beef. This is basically the recipe he came up with, with some mushrooms thrown in.
I often find them for half price on the manager's mark down cart at our store, and they help to stretch the meat in the recipe to cover more servings. They add flavour, texture, and nutrients too.
I do hope you'll try this. It may not be the prettiest dish in the world but it tastes great, and it's a frugal meal too.
To make Beef and Mushrooms in cream sauce, you'll need:
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups of sliced mushrooms (I used cremini, from the sale rack)
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, cut in quarter inch dice - about 3/4 cup
- 1 - 3 cloves of garlic finely minced (I used one because, as you can see, it was huge.)
- 12 ounces extra lean ground beef
- 3 Tablespoons butter*
- 3 Tablespoons flour*
- 3/4 cup beef stock
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk or 3/4 cup cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by sauteing the mushrooms.
Heat your pan, add in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
Add in the mushrooms and sprinkle the poultry seasoning over them.
Saute the mushrooms until any moisture they give off has evaporated and they've browned nicely.
Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste and set them aside.
In the same pan, add another Tablespoon of olive oil and the onions.
Cook the onions until they're tender but haven't taken on any colour, then add in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more.
Add in the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook it until it's browned.
Season the meat mixture with add salt and pepper to taste.
While the meat is cooking, make the cream sauce in a separate pan.
Melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour. Cook the roux for 3 to 5 minutes.
Gradually add in the stock, stirring constantly, then mix in the evaporated milk.
Continue stirring the sauce until it boils and thickens. Taste it and adjust the seasoning.
Keep the sauce warm until you need it.
Add the mushrooms to the beef and stir until they're reheated.
Mix in the cream sauce.
Serve your Beef and Mushrooms in Cream Sauce immediately, over rice, noodles, or toast.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to three days and reheated as needed in the microwave.
*If you prefer a slightly thinner cream sauce reduce the butter and flour quantities to 2 Tablespoons each.