Shit On A Shingle or Shit On The Shingles, Also Known As SOS

As children, we were not allowed to swear.  Well, you really shouldn’t swear at any age, but when we asked for SOS for supper, my mom knew what we meant. Shit on the shingles or as some call it shit on a shingle. With 6 kids and a tight budget, SOS was a budget-friendly meal. Hamburger gravy on bread or toast, a simple but tasty meal. My mom always called it shit on the shingles. She would brown ground beef with chopped onions and then make gravy with the hamburger grease and serve it on slices of toast or bread.

Several years ago I came across a recipe for SOS on social media but it was creamed chipped beef over toast. I was totally confused. I discovered later that creamed chipped beef over toast was the popular version of SOS. It just goes to show you that different strokes for different folks. I have only known the version made with ground beef and didn’t know any better.

History of SOS

The history of shit on a shingle is somewhat murky. Whether it originated from the Navy or the army is debatable. But it did become a staple in the military and found its way into the military cookbooks. It was served either for breakfast or supper. For breakfast, a fried egg found its way on top of the meat and gravy. Of course, they used the chipped beef version. Later they did use the minced or ground beef version.

The shit or meat on top of toast, the shingle. The chipped beef version is very salty.  To eliminate some of the saltiness, the chipped beef was soaked in water overnight and the water is thrown out before continuing with the recipe. This is what Wikipedia has to say about SOS

I’m unsure where my mom got this recipe. My dad nor my maternal grandpa were in the military.


Shit On A Shingle, Ground Beef  Or Chipped Beef?

I prefer the ground beef version. I have tried the Chipped beef not knowing it was called shit on the shingles but it is just too salty for my taste. Of course, the meal itself does not look very appetizing but it is so good. Comfort food at its best. The saying is you eat with your eyes. If this was always true then not many would eat it. It actually looks like its name. Shit on a shingle.  But looks are deceiving in this case because this is actually a very fulfilling meal.

My Version of Shit On A Shingle

  • 1 pound ground beef. I used ground chuck 80/20. If ground beef is excessively greasy, drain the grease off and reserve 2-3 tablespoons and add that back to the meat.
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • 2-3 cups milk depending on how thick you want the sauce.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef with 1/2 large onion, chopped. Continue to stir to break up the meat and cook until no longer pink. Salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to use enough salt or the finished product will taste bland. When meat is browned add the flour and stir well. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Slowly add the milk and stir constantly until gravy thickens. Serve over toast or bread. Also, add more salt and pepper to taste if you like. In the ground beef version, you need extra salt but be careful, you don’t want it too salty.

I lied, But Not on Purpose 🙂

I have to confess. The recipe above for SOS is not mine, it is my mom’s. But I make it just the way she use to. My dad was a cook in the flight kitchen for Continental Airlines and before that worked in restaurants as a cook, but he didn’t do much cooking at home. He always said he was tired of cooking all day and left the cooking up to my mom at home. He did on occasion make sausage gravy with biscuits for supper tho. So I actually learned a lot of my cooking ways, so to speak from my mom.

Final Thoughts

SOS is comfort food no matter which way you look at it. When cooking for a large family on a budget, this was a cheap meal.  It brings back comforting memories of my childhood. We may not have had a lot of material things in the early years but I never felt like I was cheated. My mom always had a nice meal on the table at the end of the day.

Have you ever had SOS? Which version do you prefer? Chipped beef or ground beef?

Please leave a comment below. As always I love hearing from you.

Have A Wonderful Day!

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2 thoughts on “Shit On A Shingle or Shit On The Shingles, Also Known As SOS”

  1. If we could have afforded chipped beef, then we would have eaten something else. It would made over biscuits with sausage. Also, had the hamburger creamed sauce over cornbread. I did not learn the names. (S.O.S. “puke on toast”, etc) until I went to college. Being able to cook it with deer made me popular with the hunters!


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