Greetings from Chanute! Let’s visit the Dining Hall

Soldiers lined up waiting to enter mess hall Cooks in the kitchen at Chanute

On March 16, 1992, former Chanute cook and World War II veteran Donald R. Hakala wrote to base historian Don Weckhorst asking for recipes from his time at the base. Hakala fondly remembered cooking in the Chanute kitchens and serving the men and women of the base breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the 1950s. By 1992 Hakala, was getting on in years and eager to revisit his life as a cook on the base to share the stories and recipes with his family and friends.

Weckhorst gladly responded to Hakala and ensured him that the base still maintained a reputation of excellence in their dining halls, winning multiple Hennessy Trophies for the quality of their cuisine. Additionally, he attached six recipes of the bases most popular dishes to his response for Hakala to make at home and share with his family. Of those six recipes, I offer two for those interested in preparing the most popular dishes at one of the highest rated military kitchens in the nation during its operation. These recipes are rather large, so I would suggest reducing them to fit your needs unless you need to feed an army!

Creamed Ground Beef (better known as SOS) – Yield: 100 Portions  
Each portion = 2/3 Cup

Chanute Dining Hall Recipe for Creamed Ground Beef

Note:
1. Alternate method of preparation: Follow Step 1.  In Step 2, combine flour with 1 qt (2 lb) drained fat, butter or margarine; cook 5 minutes.  In Step 3, heat reconstituted milk; add flour to mixture; cook until thickened.  Add browned beef to sauce. Heat to serving temperature.
2. In Step 1, 1 lb 2 oz dry onions A.P. will yield 1 lb diced onions.
3. In Step 1, 2 ½ oz (2/3 cups plus 3 Tbsp) dehydrated onions may be used.  See recipe No. A-11.
4. For ½ cup portion (4 oz), use: 14 lb beef pattie mix, bulk or ground beef, 12 oz (2 ¼ cups) dry onions (14 1/3 oz A.P.), 2 ¼ oz (3 1/3 Tbsp) salt, 2 ¼ tsp black pepper, 1 lb 5 oz (7 ½ cups) nonfat dry milk and 7 7/8 qt water.

Baking Powder Biscuits – Yield: 100 Portions (4 Pans)
Each portion = 2 Biscuits

Pan size: 18 by 26-inch sheet pan
Oven temperature: 450 F

Chanute Dining Hall Recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits

Notes:
1. For browner tops: In Step 1, add 8 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar to dry ingredients.
2. In Step 7, if convection oven is used, bake at 350o F.  15 minutes or until lightly browned on low fan, open vent.

Variations
1. Baking Powder Biscuits (Biscuit Mix): Omit steps 1 through 7.  Use 16 lb or 3 ½ - No. 10 cn canned Biscuit Mix.  Prepare according to instructions on container.  For convection oven, see Note 2.
2. Cheese Biscuits: In Step 1, add 2 lb (2 qt) grated Cheddar cheese to sifted dry ingredients.  Follow Steps 2 through 7.
3. Drop Biscuits: Follow Steps 1 and 2.  In Step 3, increase water to  9 lb 8 oz (4 ¾ qt). Omit Steps 4 through 6.  Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, on greased sheet pans in rows 6 by 9.  Follow Step 7.

-Thomas Kuipers
  Archives Intern