Sometimes referred to as dried beef, chipped beef is simply sections of meat that has been thinly sliced and cured with smoking or salting methods to dry out the meat. Just as with beef jerky, this type of beef can be stored for long periods of time, making it an ideal way to keep a ready source of meat protein handy without the need for refrigeration. Typically, chipped beef is cut into thin round or rectangular sections that are about the size of a saltine cracker. While in the past it was usually sold in airtight aluminum cans, this cured beef can often be purchased and flash sealed pouches.
When paired with gravy, chipped beef can be used as a main dish over rice, or to make a quick and easy open face sandwich. However, there are a number of other ways to use it. Perhaps the single most popular method is preparing chipped beef on toast. This is the simplest of meals, requiring only a toasted piece of bread and the beef placed on top. Variations can include the inclusion of gravy, while others simply use a little ketchup. This sliced beef can also be used as meat stock in vegetable soups. Since the beef is already cooked, it can be added after the vegetables have simmered from some time.
While chipped beef is dried, it is not a tough cut of meat at all. In fact, some people enjoy eating it as a snack, placing a section or two on a cracker. Others will use it in hot cheese dips made of cheese, tomatoes, chili peppers. Chipped beef can also be used to dress up legumes such as black-eyed peas, pinto beans, and navy beans.
While chipped beef has long held a reputation of being a meat that was produced for people with no cooking ability, the fact is that many cooks keep a container of two of it around the house. While the pre-mixed cans of chipped beef with gravy can be somewhat less than desirable, using dried versions and making gravy from scratch will yield a superior result.