I’m sure that I must have mentioned that I was once a cook in our countries finest military establishment, the “Marine Corps”. I can remember my very first encounter with the mess hall and Marine Corps chow. I wasn’t a cook yet since me and several hundred new recruits had just come from the new recruit processing place where we were treated to a hair cut, and given 5 minutes to shower shave and put on our new uniform consisting of olive drab utility trousers, sweat shirts and high top black tenny runners.
Have you ever tried to shave and shower with 10 sinks and 10 shower heads in five minutes with several hundred complete strangers? Well it’s not much fun and the Sergeant in charge didn’t help much with his constant insensitive badgering. Well any how after being kept up all night running here and waiting there we were marched, or in our case herded, over to the mess hall for some breakfast.
I’ll always remember that morning in San Diego. It was still pitch black as they lined us up in front of this large one story building with several hundred other recruits. The delectable aroma of bacon, eggs, and toast mixed with the stench of a very large and very full grease trap filled the crisp morning air. I was hungry but I didn’t know at the time that the stink form the grease trap had nothing to do with the food that was being served so as you might guess I was a little apprehensive about my first meal in the Marine Corps.
I was pleasantly surprised once it was my turn to grab one of the stainless steel trays and some eating utensils and side step my way down the chow line. There were mass quantities of toast and hash browns and pancakes and bacon and link sausages and stewed prunes and oatmeal and this dark gray lumpy goopy stuff. As hard as I tried I could not ever remember my mom serving me anything that looked even remotely like that gray lumpy goop. Since we were not allowed to talk in the chow line I could not ask what it was so I simply stuck my plate out and to my horror the grimy looking Marine working behind the counter slammed a large spoonful of that toxic looking goop all over my hash browns and scrambled eggs. I was hoping for just a taste now I would be forced to eat it with the rest of my meal or go without. Guess what? It was really good.
To this day my favorite memories of Marine Corps chow Is what we called “creamed beef" smothered over hash browns, biscuits and eggs. Many of you may be familiar with the term “SOS”. Creamed beef is a modern version of that stuff that was fed to many of our fathers and Grandfathers before the military came to their senses and started using ground beef in place of the old salty chipped beef. “Creamed beef” or what I call hamburger gravy, now that I am a civilian, is a favorite breakfast or dinner entrée here in the Smith household. We just love the goopy stuff whether over rice for dinner or hash browns and biscuits for breakfast. Here is how you make it.
Two pounds of cheap not too lean hamburger. 1 chopped onion
Flour, enough to absorb all the grease from the hamburger
2-4 cups of milk or so
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce or so to taste
2-3 tablespoons of beef gravy base, or brown gravy packet or so to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the hamburger and onion in a large skillet. Mix in enough flour to absorb all the grease. If your hamburger is too fat you may need to pour some of it off. Mix in gravy base or gravy packet. Add milk while stirring on medium high heat until it reaches the right goopy consistency. Add remaining ingredients. There you have it! Serve on biscuits and hash browns for breakfast or over rice for dinner. You're gonna love it. Semper Fi. Aruuaghh!!
by John Smith
Click here to get my favorite biscuit recipe at allrecipes.com