When I was a kid, a favorite meal for us was this comforting Chip Beef Gravy. Usually served on a perfect baked potato but sometimes on a toasted slice of buttered bread, this was my family’s ultimate comfort food. I don’t know if it was more so desired over my Grandma’s Famous Macaroni and Cheese but it was right up there and even easier to make. This is one of those super simple recipes, but it’s filling and satisfying. A simple white sauce with the dried beef is complex and pairs perfectly for both buttery-creamy and just right salty-meaty flavors.
What is chipped beef?
Chipped beef is made with pressed, salted and dried beef that’s been sliced into thin pieces and generally sold in jars but sometimes in packets. Some makers smoke the dried beef for more flavor and it’s sold as “dried beef” that’s partially air dried. Because the beef is salted to help process it, I always rinse the beef before using it to remove a bit of the salt even if I add more back in, that way I can control the level of salt I want.
What else can I use in place of the dried beef?
If you can’t find the jarred dried beef, substitute any sliced deli beef (roast or corned beef would be excellent), even using uncured meat if desired. Leftover roast beef, bacon, shredded pork, or even leftover rotisserie chicken would be a great meal here, though with different flavors and depth. If substituting the dried beef, chop the desired substitution into bite-sized pieces and add to the white sauce in the same manner as the dried beef.
Vegetarian option for chip beef gravy-
If you want the same deep flavor from Comforting Chip Beef Gravy in a vegetarian option, sauté 16 ounces of sliced mushrooms until golden. Then make the white sauce and add the mushrooms just before serving.
How to make a basic white sauce-
Basic white sauce is easy to get right but there are a few rules you need to follow. Butter is melted in a skillet and cooked until it starts to become bubbly. Then the flour gets sprinkled on the butter and whisked in, stirring constantly for two or three minutes, cooking the flour to remove that raw flour taste.
This next part can be tricky- While still stirring the butter/flour mixture, slowly pour in the milk. The mixture can become clumpy so I find that warming the milk a bit before adding it helps to prevent this. If the mixture does start to be lumpy, keep stirring and it will eventually smooth out. Worst case, you can pour the sauce through a strainer, pushing any leftover flour lumps through.
Continue to cook until the white sauce has thickened, adding more milk as needed and soon you’ll have a perfectly smooth white sauce. Salt and pepper get added and depending on what you’re making, onion or garlic powder plus herbs are great too. This white sauce is the base to any cheese sauce as well. You guessed it, just add shredded cheese. 🙂
For the Chip Beef Gravy, after the white sauce is combined and thick enough, I add rinsed and chopped dried beef (some people keep it in larger bites or strips), then season with onion salt, salt and pepper to taste. Shown here with Trader Joe’s onion salt that contains dried, minced green onions and chives. It’s awesome! You can add your own dried or fresh green onions and chives for more delicious flavor.
After the beef gets added into the white sauce, just cook and stir a couple minutes longer. If the sauce gets too thick, add a dash more milk just before serving.
Ways to serve Comforting Chip Beef Gravy-
As I mentioned before, we love the the chip beef gravy on buttered, baked potatoes or hearty bread that’s been toasted. Baked sweet potatoes are fantastic, you can even serve it over broccoli, or even by itself if you want. Whatever you’re craving.
Keto options for chip beef gravy-
If you want to make a comforting Chip Beef Gravy, Keto style- substitute xanthan gum in place of the flour. Be careful because you need far less of the xanthan gum. Serve on top of broccoli for the Keto option.
Whichever way you adapt and serve this meal, be sure you try it soon. If you’re already familiar with classic, comforting Chip Beef Gravy, you may know that it gained a less-than-appetizing nickname back in WWII by American soldiers- SOS or Sh*t on a Shingle. I guess it wasn’t made with appetizing appeal or taste in the mess halls, but today it’s comforting, hearty, delicious and perfect when you need a meal that heals your soul.
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Comforting Chip Beef Gravy
- 4 Russet potatoes medium size, scrubbed clean
- 4 tbsp butter 1/2 stick
- 4 tbsp flour
- 3 cups whole milk more to thin sauce if needed
- 1 4.5 oz jar Armor brand sliced dried beef
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp onion salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper optional
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley optional
Bake the potatoes
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Place oven racks at middle position. After potatoes have been washed and scrubbed clean, rub the outsides with olive oil or other neutral oil just enough to coat them. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Place potatoes directly on rack and bake until a fork inserted in the center of the potatoes goes in easily. Approximately 45-60 minutes. Once potatoes are ready, turn off heat, leaving potatoes in the oven until ready to plate. *See notes for preparing ahead of time.
Make a basic white sauce
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cooked until it starts to become bubbly. Sprinkle the flour on the butter and whisk it in, stirring constantly for two or three minutes, cooking the flour to remove that raw flour taste.
- This next part can be tricky- While still stirring the butter/flour mixture, slowly pour in the milk. The mixture can become clumpy so I find that warming the milk a bit before adding it helps to prevent this. If the mixture does start to be lumpy, keep stirring and it will eventually smooth out. Worst case, you can pour the sauce through a strainer, pushing any leftover flour lumps through. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until the white sauce has thickened, adding more milk as needed until the sauce is smooth and just bubbly.
- Reduce heat to low. Add salt, black pepper, and onion salt. Don't over salt it because the beef will add more salt and if you still need more salt, you can add it after that.
Add the beef, season, and finish
- Open the can of dried beef and place it under cold running water, letting the water overflow, removing some of the saltiness of the beef. About 15 seconds.
- Remove the beef from the jar and place on a cutting board. Using a paper towel, lightly pat the beef to remove some of the water. Chop the beef into bite-size pieces, or cut the beef into quarters for larger bites.
- Add the beef to the sauce, give it all a good stir to cover all the beef with sauce. Taste and add more salt, pepper or onion powder as desired.
Serving over potatoes
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and place on serving plates. Slice the top of the potato and then kind of squeeze the two ends of the potato, allowing the potato to open up more and the inside to easily break up, ready for the topping. If desired, add a pat of butter to the potato but it's not needed.
- Check your sauce for desired thickness, adding a little milk if it's become too thick again. Top the potatoes with the sauce, top with fresh, chopped parsley or chives. Serve.
- This recipe is easily made vegetarian. Saute about a pound of sliced cremini or white mushrooms in a tiny bit of olive oil. The mushrooms will absorb the oil. This is fine as you don't need oil to perfectly saute mushrooms. As the mushrooms begin to release a bit of liquid, add a generous amount of salt (this helps the mushrooms release even more liquid). Cook until the liquid is absorbed and the mushrooms have become golden. After you make the white sauce, add the mushrooms just before serving. Don't add the cooked mushrooms too soon or they'll lose their crisp edge and become tough in the sauce.