Chipped beef on toast is a relatively simple dish involving dried beef that has been carved into small pieces and mixed with a butter, milk and flour sauce before being poured over a piece of toast. It can be eaten as a main course or as a side dish in a larger breakfast. The dish itself can be fairly heavy, depending on how much sauce is used and how the sauce is made. A staple food of the United States military, chipped beef on toast was once served often — both in the field and in mess halls, where soldiers referred to it as the "same old stuff" (SOS) or by less polite terms. Some gourmet recipes exist that prepare the beef before cooking and add additional flavors to the white sauce, as well as using higher-quality bread that has been grilled.
The most involved part of making chipped beef on toast is preparing the white sauce. The base of the sauce is known as a roux, and it is the starter for many traditional sauces and dishes in a variety of cuisines. Making a roux begins with melting fat in a pan — usually butter in the case of chipped beef on toast. Flour is then added to the butter and allowed to cook to remove the paste-like taste of raw flour. At the same time, the flour and butter will start to brown over the heat, changing color and becoming progressively darker the longer it cooks.
Once the flour and butter have cooked until only the very slightest change in color can be detected, the next step is to add milk to the pan. It should be added very slowly to give the flour a chance to absorb the liquid before more is poured in. This is the sauce that will contain the beef and be spooned over top of the toast. The consistency usually is thick, although this is a matter of personal taste and some preparations create a much more soup-like sauce.
The next step in making chipped beef on toast is to place the chipped beef in the roux. It is simmered until the sauce is hot and has reached the desired consistency. More milk can be added if the chipped beef makes the sauce too dense. Some recipes also call for the addition of pepper, Worcestershire sauce, finely diced onions or cayenne pepper.
To serve chipped beef on toast, a piece of toasted bread is placed in the center of a plate. The sauce and beef mixture is spooned over top of the bread so it covers the entire slice. Black pepper, parsley or chives can be placed on top of the plated food as a garnish.