My absolute favorite childhood dish I requested it every year on my birthday. This is the most special recipe that reminds me of my Mom.
Now I’m going to be completely honest with you about this dish. It is NOT the most visually appealing dish ever. It has a certain name that most know as “S**t on a Shingle” is most common – heck that’s what my Dad called it.
Mom called it “Chipped Beef on Toast” even though it was never ever beef. It was always shaved baked ham. I, called it, PERFECT! See this was my TIME FAVORITE recipe EVER my Mom made. Even though we had virtually no money growing up each of us kids got to pick out anything we wanted to eat for our birthday – dinner and dessert.
For 18 years (well maybe not when I was 1 or 2 years old), I asked for Chipped Beef on Toast and her to-die-for Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Pudding frosting. This is true ‘peasant’ food – it’s ridiculously cheap, fed a ton, and well was ‘fugly’ looking. This would be the child in the family that wasn’t the athlete, wasn’t the brainiac, wasn’t the one that stood out but rather was the wallflower of the family.
BUT… yes but… when given the chance they proved you wrong. They stood out because they were unpretentious, ordinary, and simplistic. In their own way, they were truly amazing. That’s how this dish is to me. With just a few simple ingredients, you can take that wallflower plain Jane dish and make it taste absolutely phenomenal. So yes, this will never be one of those gorgeous dishes that you just want to lick your monitor over but if given that chance to shine, it will become one of your all-time favorites.
Now, this I had on toast, not bread but toast. The contrast of the crunchy bread with the creaminess of the bechamel sauce with the hint of pepper and ham was just…perfect. The peas, for me, must only ever be canned peas. I absolutely LOATHE frozen peas and while fresh pea rock, they just don’t quite work in this dish.
Now even though my dearest mother has been gone for 26 years I still make this in the month of May (my birthday month) just for me. Mr. Fantabulous honestly I don’t think has ever tried this in all the years we’ve been together. I don’t think it’s on purpose, it’s more just that I make just enough for me. It’s like a personal dish that I have with her – at least in my heart when I eat it. It’s one of those foods that always trigger happy memories for me.
Do you guys do that? Do you have a food or dish that triggers a certain memory or slew of memories? Tell me about it.
Now, what makes this even more ‘fugly’ if you will is that if you notice in the pictures, there are 2 regular slices of toast and the lowly end/crust piece. This, again, is a must for me. The crust was the anchor of the ‘boat’ that didn’t get this stuff on it. Since I was the youngest of the kids, even though it was my birthday I always seemed to get stuck with the crust. You know, that slice of bread that no one EVER wanted. It was hard and well more crust than real bread.
However, Mom always made it out to be so much more awesome than the regular bread slices. See, this dish, the bread must be toasted. And for me, the toast HAD to be crispy. Again it’s that texture thing. You don’t want this to get all mushy right away. The crispier the toast, the longer it held up against the weight of the sauce and fillings. So if you used the end slice, it got super crispy and while my brothers would get stuck with the mushier pieces cause they had the “real bread” toasted my lowly crust was still nice and crispy up towards the end. Thus we called it the anchor of the boat. It was sturdy, kept stuff in place, and didn’t let the fillings sink down in.
Pretty ingenious, eh?
So if I had to say one thing about this dish to you to try it I’d have to say “Don’t judge a book by its cover. Open it up and give it a try. You may just find yourself totally in love and beyond thrilled you gave it a shot!” Delicious doesn’t have to be fancy schmancy or drop-dead gorgeous.
- 4 tablespoon butter, unsalted
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups half and half (or can use all milk)
- 1 pound shaved chipped baked ham (or can use chopped dried beef)
- 3 1/2 cups peas (canned or frozen – thawed)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 slices of bread, toasted – don’t forget about the ‘anchor’ crusts!
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add in the flour and whisk for a minute to cook the flour.
- SLOWLY add in the milk whisking constantly to break up the clumps.
- Reduce heat to medium low and cook, whisking often until the mixture thickens. ~3-6 minutes. Watch so it doesn’t burn!
- Once the mixture thickens add in the ham and using a rubber tipped spatula, mix to combine, gently scraping on the base on the pan.
- Cook for 1 minute.
- Add in the peas, stir gently and turn off the heat.
- Toast the bread and place 2 slices of toast on a plate.
- Ladle a generous portion over the toast.