Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef

Creamed Macaroni & Dried Beef 3

When browsing through hundred-year-old magazines, I came across a recipe for Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef. This dish has a creamy, rich, white sauce that works perfectly with the macaroni and dried beef to create a comfort food that simultaneously seems both new and old-fashioned.

Most varieties of dried beef that are available today are technically chipped beef. I always think of dried beef as a food that the military ate during World War II, but drying meat is historically a good way to preserve it and there are some really good hundred-year-old dried beef recipes.

Here’s the Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef recipe updated for modern cooks:

Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup macaroni

2 – 4 ounces dried beef

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups milk

Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente (6 – 8 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain.

In the meantime, rinse dried beef to reduce the salt content, then drain well. Dice into 1/2 inch pieces.

Melt butter in frying pan; then add the diced dried beef and “frizzle” it until the diced beef curls and browns slightly. Stir flour into the dried beef and butter mixture. Slowly pour in milk, and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly.  Stir in the macaroni and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and excess liquid is absorbed, while stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Here’s the original recipe:

Creamed Macaroni & Dried Beef
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine) (March, 1916)

I did not use salt in the water that I used to cook the macaroni, nor did I add additional salt to the macaroni and dried beef mixture. The dried beef that I used was quite salty–even after I rinsed it, so additional salt was not needed.

43 thoughts on “Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef

  1. I think this looks like a good winter dish. Before refrigeration, there was probably a need for many recipes for dried meats.

  2. I confess. Stouffers makes a wonderful creamed chipped beef you can find in the freezer section. One package will serve two, or serve me for two meals. Creamed chipped beef on cornbread has been a life-long comfort food. If I don’t have cornbread, it goes nicely on toast, or rice. If a person wanted to get fancy, you could chop up a couple of hard-boiled eggs into it.

    But! I’ve never had it with macaroni, so this is on the list for this week. It’s going to be rainy and dreary all week, and even though we’re not cold, that’s gloom enough for this kind of dish. Thanks for bringing it back to mind.

    1. This dish would be perfect on a dreary, rainy day. I learned something new. I hadn’t realized that a frozen version of creamed chip beef is available.

  3. This looks good!! I love dry beef! I always made a white gravy with it to go over scramble eggs. I’m gonna remember this when I have some dried beef again.

    1. I also thought that seemed really strange. It seems like the macaroni would be a soggy mess after being boiled in water for an hour. Maybe it was much thicker back then.

      1. Could be. I remember my great aunt making a sweet macaroni baked custard, and that took a long time to cook. It was delicious. She made one with vermicelli, too.In fact it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I learned that pasta had a life outside of baked custards. 😀

  4. It would have taken longer to cook pasta on a coal or wood burning stove. To keep it from constantly boiling over they would have cooked it on a spot away from the fire and simmered it.

  5. Macaroni–check; creamy sauce–check; salty–check! This recipe has it all! I am a complete sucker for this kind of old-school, comforting food. Can’t wait to try it!

  6. As a child, we ate creamed dried beef on toast. I have to say I don’t miss it. Maybe I should look at it again as an adult. I recently saw dried beef in bags hanging on racks (like jerky is sold) at the market.

    1. My husband and I occasionally have creamed dried beef on toast for lunch – and I definitely like it better now than what I did when I was a child. 🙂

    1. That seemed really strange to me, too. Can you imagine what modern macaroni would look like if it was cooked in boiling water for an hour?

    1. It is a lovely bowl. Cobalt blue sounds really pretty, too. The bowl in the picture is one of three nesting bowls in a set that I got as a gift a number of years ago.

  7. This looks like good & easy comfort food. Dried beef is a curious food product. It’s mite near nothing and yet it makes for hearty tasting recipes. 🙂

    1. They are slightly different. Both are dried beef, but I think that jerky tends to be spicier. Dried beef is sliced very thin, and used for sandwiches and in recipes; jerky often is packed in individual servings and is eaten by itself as a snack.

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