This recipe is dedicated to my Mom, who loves that old and often maligned dish Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast. I would have made her absolute favorite, which is Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie (not the baked kind you’re thinking of with a top crust, but a sort of soup with homemade thick square noodles) but it’s more of a cold weather thing.
Back to Chipped Beef on Toast — you may have also heard it called “Something on a Shingle,” and worse. And it is often associated with military cuisine, if you can put those two words together in your mind in the same sentence. I don’t mean to offend, I just don’t often hear “cuisine” or “gourmet” and “military” used together.
My Mom did not grow up in a military family, rather her Dad was a doctor and Mom a nurse, and they lived in small town, semi-rural (at least by my standards!) Eastern Pennsylvania. They had a summer place where I think they grew a ton of vegetables and other edibles, plus chickens, horses and probably some other animals I don’t remember. They had access to farm fresh food and that’s primarily what she was raised on. I don’t know how Creamed Chipped Beef came to the table, but I’ve met lots of ladies and gentlemen her age who say “Oh, I was raised on that stuff.” It’s basically air dried beef (or could be sausage in some circles) cooked in a white gravy and spooned over toast. The air dried beef is just not sold out here in California, and so when Mom gets a craving she goes for Stouffers, which even though almost against her religion, she says is a good version.
For this Mother’s Day I’ve created my own take on Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast, using the fine Italian Dried Beef Bresaola, a homemade béchamel, and Artisan, Wild-Yeasted Rye from my favorite bakery. Make no mistake, it’s not the real thing, but it is truly delicious. Serve with a little stone fruit or something sweet, as the dish is very salty.