It was amazing the way the galley crew could come up with gourmet quality food from stores that hadn't been replenished in weeks. Our hats go off to those "Masters of the Griddle and Soup Pot" !!! On this page we've posted recipes that we all remember from those glorious days at sea. Where possible, the recipes have been adjusted to accommodate a "family size" meal.
Just for reference, below is an excerpt from the Navy Mess Manual from 1902...
GENERAL MESS MANUAL AND COOKBOOK
USE ON BOARD VESSELS OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY
PREPARED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF
THE PAYMASTER GENERAL.
PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHORITY OF
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
47. On board ship, where the facilities are necessarily restricted and the food lacking in variety compared to that obtainable on shore, it is of the highest importance that the very best results possible under the circumstances should be obtained. With a liberal allowance of cooks and bakers, and a judicious selection of the men for these rates, the Navy ration should be so prepared as to give the enlisted men three nourishing and palatable meals each day, and it should be the duty of the commissary department to see that this is done.
Frequent inspections of the food by the commissary and the commissary steward, and efficiency on the part of the cooks, alone can insure this.
The 1902 Manual states the following with regards to the recipes contained within:
NOTE. - The following recipes have been deduced from a series of experiments made with articles of the Navy ration. Only such as can be easily followed with the usual facilities found on board ship are given. Where time and space will permit more elaborate dishes may be prepared, but it is here the aim to aid inexperienced cooks in the proper preparation of the stores supplied by the Government.
The quantities of the ingredients given in all recipes are those required for one hundred men.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
|Chipped Beef on
Gravy on Toast
|Navy Bean Soup
Upside Down Cake
|Baking Powder Biscuits
|Navy Cherry Crumble Pie
||Glazed Ham Loaf|
|* * * 1902 Beef Soup * * *
||* * * 1902 Vegetable Soup * * *|
|* * * 1902 Rice Pudding * * *||S.O.S. Explained|
4 1/2 oz. dried beef
2 cups milk
2 tbs. butter
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper
6 slices bread Cooking Instructions:
1. Melt butter in pan, add dried beef.
2. Cook 2-3 minutes to brown.
3. Add milk (reserve 1/4 cup for later), salt & pepper.
4. Bring to boil.
5. Mix flour and remaining milk together.
6. Slowly add to boiling mixture until it begins to thicken.
7. Serve over toast.
* Note: See note below about "S.O.S."
This page is from The Navy Wives Web Site
30 minutes, 30 minutes preparation
(See note below about "S.O.S.")
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
cooking oil, if needed
salt and pepper
5 tablespoons flour, approximate
1 (16 ounce) can whole tomatoes, diced
5 1/2 ounces tomato juice
2 cups hot water, approximate
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar, to taste
1. Crumble the ground beef into a skillet and brown with the onions.
2. If beef is very lean, add a tablespoon or two of cooking oil.
3. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add flour, one tablespoon at a time, stirring and cooking each spoonful, before adding the next.
5. The flour must be cooked to preclude a starchy taste through out.
6. Add enough flour to absorb most of the oil.
7. Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato juice, followed by the water.
8. Allow to simmer on low heat to thicken.
9. Adjust consistency as necessary.
10. Add nutmeg and sugar and adjust to taste
This recipe is from: http://www.recipezaar.com
Believe it or not, there is no one specific recipe for "S.O.S". It is in fact a sort of generic name given to just about anything that resembles gravy and is served on top of a piece of toast. Just about every cook has their secret recipe. Two of the most popular Navy recipes are shown above.
On the website SeabeeCook.com, which bills itself as "The Online Information Source for American Military Cooks", in an article entitled "How the Cooks Prepared SOS" by Steve Karoly, we find that with regards to S.O.S. recipes "Each service kept their favorite (recipes) until the Armed Forces Recipe Service was published in February 1969. After 1969, service cooks were exposed to the favorite recipes of the other services. Creamed beef, which was originally an Army favorite, has become the most popular version of SOS."
Here are the recipes they provide:
CREAMED BEEF ON TOAST (S.O.S.)
1 (3 or 4 oz.) pkg. sliced dried or smoked beef, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/3 c. milk
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
English muffin or toast
In large skillet, melt butter. Stir in flour and pepper. While stirring, add milk and Worcestershire sauce and heat until thick and bubbly. Add beef and continue to cook while stirring for a couple of minutes. Spoon over toast or English muffins.
U.S. NAVY STYLE - S.O.S. (MINCED BEEF)
1 lb. ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped
1/4 c. celery, minced
2 tbsp. flour
1 (20 oz.) can tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 c. water
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Brown beef, onion, celery; add flour. Mix thoroughly. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and water, sauce and nutmeg. Simmer 1/2 hour. Serve over crisp toast. Serves 6.
Both of the above recipes are from: Cooks.Com
2. Place beans in large stock pot with ham/ham bone or bacon ends.
3. Add 3 quarts of water. Bring to boil then simmer 2-3 hours.
4. Stir in mashed potatoes, onions, celery, garlic and parsley.
5. Simmer another 1 to 2 hours.
6. Remove meat and bone.
7. Dice meat, and return to soup, stir and serve.
This recipe is from: www.bigoven.com
1 gal plus 2 qts of PINEAPPLE, CANNED, SLICES, JUICE PACK, INCL LIQUIDS
1-3/4 cup CHERRIES, MARASCHINO, WHOLE
3 lbs SUGAR, BROWN, PACKED
3 cups BUTTER, SOFTENED
10 lbs CAKE MIX, YELLOW
1. Drain pineapple well. Drain cherries; slice in half. Set fruit aside for use in Step 3.
2. Pour 1-1/2 cups butter or margarine in each pan. Sprinkle 3-1/4 cups brown sugar evenly over butter or margarine.
3. Arrange 54 pineapple slices, in rows 6 by 9, over mixture in each pan. Place 1 cherry half into each pineapple slice. Set aside.
4. Prepare mix according to instructions on container.
5. Pour 3-1/2 quarts batter evenly over fruit in each pan.
6. Using a convection oven, bake at 325 F. 25-30 minutes on low fan, open vent or until done.
7. Remove cakes from pans while still hot. Cut 6 by 9. Serve fruit side up.
Yield 100 1 Biscuit Portions
Ingredients by weight (or measure):
6-5/8 lbs FLOUR, WHEAT, GENERAL PURPOSE (1 gal 2 qts.)
3-5/8 oz. MILK, NONFAT, DRY (1-1/2 cup)
5-7/8 oz. BAKING POWDER (3/4 cup)
1-1/2 oz. SALT (2-1/3 tbsp.)
12 oz. SHORTENING (1-5/8 cup)
3-7/8 lbs. WATER (1 qt. 3-1/2 cup)
2 oz. COOKING SPRAY, NONSTICK ( 1/4 cup 1/3 tbsp.)
1 Sift together flour, milk, baking powder, and salt into mixer bowl.
2 Blood shortening at low speed into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
2 Add water; mix at low speed only enough to form soft dough.
4 Place dough on lightly floured board. Knead lightly 1 minute or until dough is smooth.
5 Roll or pat out to a uniform thickness of 1/2-inch.
6 Lightly spray each pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cut with 2-1/2 inch floured biscuit cutter. Place 50 biscuits on each pan.
7 Using a convection oven, bake at 350 F. for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on low fan, open vent.
Notes: For browner tops: In Step 1, add 1/2 cup granulated sugar per 100 portions to dry ingredients.
.....I don't know how much you guys made me really learn to eat Corned Beef... Loved it at sea, cause it meant that I could go back for seconds because of the unlearned ones "pass" on it. Anyway, herewith a good recipe for the closest I have been able to come up with
1 4 to 4 1/2-pound corned beef, rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 T-spoons brown sugar
1 T-spoon soy sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degs F. Coat a roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place the corned beef in the roasting pan; Add the water and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 2 hours; drain liquid.
3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spread evenly over the corned beef. Cook uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the corned beef is fork-tender, basting occasionally with the pan drippings. Slice the corned beef across the grain and serve.
They say 6 to 8 servings.... Not in my house!... We hardly even have leftovers, even. The one that gets up earliest usually gets to finish it off for breakfast... LOL..
BTW, I have found that when the beef finally comes out of the oven, if you have selected a 'flat' cut, then (by inserting) a knife directly under the fat layer you can separate the two pieces. Run the knife blade, flat side down, across the meat, and the fat will separate, leaving you with a re-stacked piece of meat with no fat.
Thanks to you guys for 27 1/2 years of real good eating.
John K. Ellett, RMC, USN (Ret)
Jim Fernandez, USN veteran, emailed us this request: "Hello, I am a former old salt during the Vietnam era and have been looking for a Navy recipe for Cherry Crumble. I love this dessert. Can you help?"
The only recipe we were able to find similar to Jim's request is for Navy Cherry Crumble pie. As I recall it was delicious. I think this is pretty close to what Jim remembers. (Ed.)
Note that the "Yield" is for 12 pies! That's 100 servings!
See email below regarding "Cherry Dump Cake".
Use 90 pounds of soup meat (as much bone as possible); let simmer for two hours, then remove meat and add vegetables as follows: One quart of barley, 6 pounds of carrots, 3 pounds of onions, 2 pounds of turnips (the vegetables having been cleaned and cut in strips), and allow the soup to boil for one hour. Season with pepper, salt, cloves, and spices; mix flour and water to the consistency of a sirup and stir in, while the soup is boiling, a sufficient quantity to thicken it. After boiling for ten minutes longer the soup is ready to serve. After the beef is removed it should be kept hot until served.
(From the 1902 Navy Mess Manual and Cookbook)
Add to the stock obtained from the last recipe 5 pounds of carrots, 3 pounds of turnips, 2 heads of cabbage, 1 1/2 pounds of sugar, 6 pounds of rice or barley, and 6 pounds of tomatoes. Season with pepper and salt and boil for forty-five minutes. All fatty substances should be skimmed from the stock before adding the vegetables.
(From the 1902 Navy Mess Manual and Cookbook)
Wash 30 pounds of rice and place in pots of cold water on the galley, letting it boil for thirty minutes. In six cans of condensed milk or 10 quarts of fresh milk dissolve 6 pounds of sugar and 2 tablespoonfuls of salt. When the rice is soft, add the milk and 6 pounds of currants, 6 pounds of raisins, and 4 dozen eggs, and mix all together. Place the pudding in greased pans, grate nutmeg over them, and bake in oven until brown.
(NOTE. - In this and the preceding recipe, when condensed milk is used, it should be diluted to the consistency of rich fresh milk.)
(From the 1902 Navy Mess Manual and Cookbook)
SM2 Mike (?) wrote on July 7, 2012:GLAZED HAM LOAF
" I would love to have the recipe for the Ham Loaf. I have tried many times to duplicate it but just got close. I would have to say the Navy "chow" was scrumptious. I only had 2 bad meals in 8 years and then disabled out.
Hope you have this stashed away somewhere and you don't mind sharing. "Ahoy" !
From the Webmaster: Mike, originally from West Virginia, told me he joined the Navy on 10 Oct 62, doing his basic training at Great Lakes. He went on to serve on the USS Georgetown AG 165, and later was with SERVLANT where he did a 2 year tour in Naples, Italy. He later served on the reefer ship USS Sylvania AFS 2.
After 8 years in the Navy Mike got out, then went on to get a Nursing License. He now lives outside of Abilene, Texas on a "little 10 acre ranch with a few animals, more as pets than profit.")
Yield: 100 Portion: 5 Ounces
Comments from the Crew and our Friends...
Received from Barbara Hurst MS2 USNR on 23 Jan 2010:
"I can't believe it !!! I finally found someone who actually had the Minced Beef Gravy on Toast recipe. I was an MS2 reserve & civilian galley worker at Glenview Naval Air Station in Glenview Ill. I had a box of recipe cards but lost them in a move. I have been trying to find some of these recipes for years. Most I could kind of remember what went into them, but I wasn't really sure about the minced beef . Thank you so much.. You made my day."
Received from Will Haney USN (Ret) on 30 Jan 2010:
Thank you for the recipe page. After spending 20 years in the Navy, some of these are very dear to my old taste buds. Mainly the (SOS) minced beef gravy on toast, and (I'm going ahead and say it "foreskins on a raft") chipped beef on toast. Thank you, and I hope I didn't offend anyone with my little off color comment. If you were USN you have heard it before.
Received 15 Aug 2011 from Sue Tyler:
My dad was in the Army but he learned to love many US Navy recipes. I have been a cook most of my life and frequently had customers request "SOS" made with dried beef, hamburger, sausage, bacon and chopped ham. Still the breakfast or dinner of choice with my family of 13 kids, 29 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren!
Received from David Potter (RM2 1968-1972) on Fri, 11 May 2012 (USS Iwo Jima / USS Cleveland)
When I was a young bluejacket, I was often the only one of few who would show up in the chow line, tray in hand, for S.O.S. I usually got a third helping because the cooks appreciated someone who really liked their cooking.
Since then, I have tried many, many recipes in a futile effort to recapture the magnificence of something so simple. But, ahoy!, my prayers were answered when I stumbled across this recipe.
Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.
Here's wishing you fair winds and following seas.
Received from David Potter (RM2 1968-1972) on Wed, 16 May 2012
Please tell Mr. Fernandez that "Cherry Dump Cake" is what we ate during the Vietnam era. Similar to cherry crumble pie but not the same. I remember it well and make it fairly often.
Editor's note: We'll see if we can get Mr. Potter to turn loose of his recipe. (See above.)
Received via email on 10 Feb 2016 from a Navyman - No name provided.
I served in the Navy from 1954 to 1961.
My most favorite breakfast aboard the USS Norfolk EDL1, was the Minced Beef Gravy on toast, however I really enjoyed the Saturday breakfast of Baked Beans with Cornbread and fried eggs.
After the Navy, I met and worked in the kitchen with a retired Navy Chef that gave me a recipe for the Minced Beef Gravy. It is slightly different from the recipe on the USS Little Rock, whereas we use beef broth in place of the water and we add a little bit of ground nd ketchup in place of the tomato juice.
There is always enough fat in the ground beef that we eliminated the cooking oil. We have this recipe at least once a month for Sunday breakfast with fried eggs.
I really enjoy the website and the old time recipes. I gave the recipe for Minced Beef Gravy a number 9 (!) .....only because I give my recipe for it a number 10!
Received via email on 5 May 2017 from Brian Nutley - SM1.
Enjoyed reading your usn recipes. brought back a lot of memories. Will be making beef on toast asap. Kudos to the guy who called them the way they were..shit on a shingle and foreskins on toast!!!!