What you didn't know about chipped beef

There's a time and place for everything, and sometimes, you just don't feel like painstakingly acquiring and preparing the best cut of steak available to you. There are days when your taste buds are wired for simpler, yet not necessarily any less delicious experiences, such as some tasty, tasty chipped beef. 

Chipped beef might not be as iconic as, say, beef jerky, but it's far from the biggest mistake one can make with a smoker. As Cook's Info tells us, this particular meat product is pretty much what it says on the package – just super-thin slices of smoked and salted beef, sometimes sold as "dried beef" instead of the "chipped" version. You've probably seen various versions of this deli meat at the grocery store, from brands like Esskay, Buddig, Hormel, and others. Who knows – you might be eating some right now. But how familiar are you really with this particular meat product? Let's take a closer look at things you might not know about chipped beef. 

The salty treat from the breakfast tables of Pennsylvania became a legendary Navy recipe

The thing to remember when cooking with chipped beef is that it's not meant to be the main ingredient. Instead, Cook's Info recommends using it as a 'flavoring item', because boy, it does have plenty of flavor. In fact, you should always taste the stuff before using it in a recipe, particularly one that recommends adding salt. Though chipped beef's saltiness can vary by the brand, you might find that the last thing you want to do is sprinkle some extra sodium on the stuff.   

Per Atlas Obscura, the chipped beef has its roots in the Northeastern U.S., and Pennsylvania in particular. Cream chipped beef has been a popular breakfast food since the end of the 19th century, but it truly cemented its position on people's palates as a recipe known as "S.O.S.," which is short for the dish's less-than-appetizing informal name - "S**t on a Shingle."

Variations of "S**t on a Shingle" have appeared in military cookbooks since at least 1910, and as anyone who's served in the Navy can attest, the nickname – as well as several other, equally unattractive ones – doesn't necessarily reflect the taste or the dish's popularity. After all, after you get your head wrapped around the nomenclature, the dish is simply ... creamed chipped beef on toast.