We'd gone to Goose the Market before the furnace acted up, see? And picked up small amounts of delightful deli-type meat: Black Forest Ham, sopressata, waygu bresaola.... It made for delicious snacks, but sliced transparently thin, even a little is a lot.
Time had passed. When you have thinly-sliced, salt-preseved meat in the fridge, it needs to to be wrapped up tightly and even then, it wants to dry out. Last night, I found that we needed to finish off the bresaola, which is lovely Italian-style dried beef....
...Dried beef.... I realized there was only one way to proceed: SOS. Creamed chipped beef on toast!
I'm told Uncle Sam has been ruining this stuff for over a hundred years. I don't know -- all I ever had was the kind Mom made (excellent!) and the version you find in the freezer case (not bad, in fact).
White gravy is a kitchen staple, just fat, flour and milk. You probably have the fixings right now. I was low on butter, so I ended up about half that and half olive oil; added flour to make roux, cooked carefully over medium-low heat so the gravy stayed light (roux can go from white to very dark, depending on what you're after). Once it looked bubbly-cooked and smelled toasty, I whisked in milk (and a little bit of dried shallot), got it barely to a boil, and backed off the heat, whisking madly all the while. Then I alternated between snipping in the beef and stirring until it was all in. After eight minutes or so, the gravy thickened up nicely, it smelled heavenly, and when poured over toast, it was ambrosia. A bit salty -- the beef might've benefited from a quick rinse -- but it was better than any CCBOT or "SOS" I've ever had. Tam licked her plate clean.
(If you're wondering, a little over 2 tablespoons of the fat, about 2 tablespoons of flour and a cup and a half of milk. Shallots, no more than a quarter of a medium onion's worth. Each serving got a quick grind of mixed peppercorns and I added dried chives to mine. You could make this with thin-sliced ham, too, or use it for sausage gravy; in the latter case, use the sausage grease for the fat, adding more butter or oil if needed.)
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
9 months ago