It’s time to begin the comfort food makeovers! I mentioned that I would be doing so this year, and I’m not about to let Y’all down.
I know I can’t be the only one who grew up eating S.O.S., also known as “Creamed Beef on Toast”, or “Sh*t on a Shingle”. As a kid it was one of my favorite dishes, since it was only made occasionally. (I don’t think my mother really liked it all that much, but my father did.) I’m not sure if my liking for this dish stemmed more from the fact that I could usually manage to slip in one curse word without getting in too much trouble, or the fact that anything that included beef and cream is something I find strangely wondrous.
My mother’s version of SOS was always made using cream of celery soup (Yep, condensed, from a can.) Two pounds of hamburger, and maybe an onion or two tossed in for good measure. Most of the recipes I’ve seen that use canned soup call for cream of mushroom, but my mother had issues digesting them, so they were never a staple in my childhood home. The original recipe calls for neither celery or mushrooms, so I may have drifted completely off course with this update/remake, but I don’t think so.
I toyed with the idea of naming this dish “Chier sur un bardeau”, but why rename Sh*t on a shingle to the same thing in a different language? It is what it is, a food staple that caught on in the U.S. (And England as well, I believe.) during the first and second world wars and the great depression. Inexpensive, filling and at least somewhat tasty. It provided a lot of sustenance for very little money, and gave the family something hot and satisfying to share around their table. In that respect, SOS is comfort food at its very best.
For me, it’s a reminder of a different era, time spent with my mother and sister in the kitchen, and the good and bad times that followed. In short, even though this is an updated version of the original, it takes me home. It’s also quite messy, which makes for giggles at my current table, where my wife and I try not to get too much of the sauce on our faces!
- 1 small loaf french bread, cut in 1/2? slices.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 4 oz. button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3.5 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. sour cream
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 375°
Arrange bread slices on a half-sheet pan or large cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle generous amounts of onion and garlic powder over the top. Bake at 375° until top is golden, flip and brush other side of bread with olive oil. Return to oven until the bread is golden brown and crisp. (About 7 minutes total.) Remove from heat and set aside. May be served hot or cold, works perfectly as a crouton for salads or soups, or as base for a crostini.
Brown ground beef and ground pork in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Once all meat is well browned, transfer to colander to drain. (Do this over a large bowl to catch any drippings. You don’t want them in your drains.)
Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel, add 2 tbsp olive oil and reheat. Add onions and cook until unions are sift and just translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add shitake mushrooms, cook for 1 minute, then add button mushrooms. Continue cooking vegetable mixture until mushrooms are golden.
Season vegetable mixture with salt and pepper. (Doing this before cooking the mushrooms would significantly lengthen browning time.) Return ground meat to pan and stir to distribute all ingredients. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir well to distribute and coat pieces evenly. (about 1 minute or until the flour smells nutty.)
Add milk and sour cream, and Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly until liquids are just below a boil. (Do not let the milk boil. If you do, it will separate and curdle. Definitely not a good thing.) Remove from heat, test for seasoning.
Serve approximately one tbsp of mixture per slice of toast.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I think a little Pecorino Romano sprinkled over the top would be a nice addition, as would a bit of fresh parsley mixed in the sauce at the last minute for freshness.
Links to other recipes like this:
- SOS (Chipped Beef On Toast) Recipe, from ichiban1.org (the author claims that this is n original U.S. Army recipe, and that sounds about right for the day and age it was invented in.
- S.O.S. (Creamed Beef On Toast), from Mr. Breakfast
- Ground Beef Gravy, from Coconut and Lime (it’s not technically S.O.S., but it’s close enough.)