What Is Chipped Beef Gravy?

Lori Kilchermann

Chipped beef gravy is a dish that includes a thick, white gravy and dried, sliced beef. Many variations of this dish use vegetables and are served over a variety of starchy foods, including mashed potatoes, toasted bread and biscuits. The dish has several aliases, from derogatory military nicknames to local titles for the less-than-complex recipe. Chipped beef gravy is often a dish that is served under the hardest of times. It can be made with a wide variety of ingredients, and it is suitable to be served for dinner, lunch or breakfast.

Low-quality meat is typically used to make chipped beef.
Low-quality meat is typically used to make chipped beef.

Beginning with butter and flour, a thick rue is prepared in a large skillet when preparing chipped beef gravy. Milk is added to the rue and boiled until a thick gravy is created. The amount of ingredients are commonly varied according to the amount of gravy that is desired. When a sufficient amount of white gravy is created, dried beef is added and allowed to come up to temperature. The beef is precooked, so there is no need to recook the meat. Many cooks rinse the dried beef under running water to remove some of the salt from the cured meat before adding it into the gravy.

Vegetables are often included in chipped beef gravy.
Vegetables are often included in chipped beef gravy.

Due to the saltiness of the dried beef, the gravy typically does not require additional salting, and only pepper usually needs to be added. Cooks who prefer a speck-free gravy can opt to use a white pepper when preparing chipped beef gravy rather than black pepper. Once the beef has been brought up to temperature and the gravy is of the desired consistency, it will thicken as it cooks. If various vegetables are desired in the gravy, fresh or canned vegetables can usually be added with equal amounts of success. Frozen vegetables can be used in the dish, however, they should be added before the beef to allow ample time for the vegetables to defrost and cook.

Often, chipped beef gravy can be served over mashed potatoes, however, the primary recipient for the beef and vegetable mixture is a slice, or shingle, of toasted bread, typically centered on a deep serving plate. Chipped beef gravy has been a staple of the military soldier since World War I and perhaps earlier due, in part, to the meal's ease of assembly and the nutritional value found in the gravy. For a saltier dish, the beef can be placed into the gravy without rinsing. For variety, it can also be served atop cornbread.

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