The Venerable Military Food vs The Chuck Wagon Cook

In one war it was K – rations, in another C – rats, then more recently MRE’s, abbreviation for “meal ready to eat,” or as Robin Williams said, “meal ready to excrete!” In any event, while we were all in our military service we were introduced to a novel form of food preparation. What we encountered was often relatively unappetizing fare designed to infuse scientifically correct percentages of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fiber into soldiers in the field. Well, I have two brothers who managed to make “chicken salad out of chicken litter,” so to speak, by using imaginative combinations of MRE’s to make nearly gourmet meals! The rest of us suffered in silence, or complained, like Hawkeye in M.A.S.H.

A cup of Arbuckles coffee and a bowl of biscuits and gravy!
One old standard actually made it into civilian cuisine, the fabled S.O.S, or  “s – on a shingle.”  Ask any veteran to explain that. My mom called it chipped beef gravy on toast, and we had it fairly often. A variant of S.O.S. is sausage gravy on biscuits, and it’s an old chuckwagon favorite. It’s preparation is pretty simple, you make biscuits in one Dutch oven, while in a skillet, fry up some Jimmy Dean, or other sausage patties, but chop them into crumbs. Take out the browned sausage, throw flour into the grease (add a little oil if needed) stir it until it smells like burnt popcorn, like making a roux. In fact, that is exactly what you are doing. stir in some milk, salt and pepper, then put the sausage back in stir it up and pour it on the biscuits. That and strong hot black coffee – Larrupin!

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