I never knew much about chicken fried steak while growing up, at least not that I recall. I grew up in Indiana, and as some may define that as the south, there is a bit of a difference when it comes to southern cooking. Sure there was plenty of great corn and tomatoes to be had, but there was not much of chicken fried steak. Not that it was a bad thing. My parents actually knew how to fry a couple of good things. One of which I have to keep my mouth locked on, however I am not sure why, as people are already making this ‘secret’ recipe, and the other being some great fried chicken in a cast iron skillet.
I was first introduced to chicken fried steak at a greasy spoon in Dallas, Texas. It was late, as usual, and when I mean greasy spoon, I mean that smoked filled, dirty diner, where you go for one thing, and one thing only. Chicken fried steak and biscuits and gravy. I fell in love with it. At the time, all I knew was it was this unknown type of meat, breaded and fried, and smothered in a white gravy. It was a late night, after bar, stick to your belly, paradise. It was right up there with the great memories of Tex Mex cuisine as well.
So not long ago, the thought of chicken fried steak came to mind. This dish is really easy to make, takes very little time, and yields huge flavor. Enough to satisfy an early morning, or a late afternoon. I left the late night out of the scene here, because it is now often difficult for me to stay up past eleven at night. Kidding aside, lets get started.
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 lbs of round steak, cut into four chunks, pounded out about 3/4 inch thick
- 3 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 large eggs, beaten with 3 tbsp milk
- 3 1/4 cup of milk
- 2 cups of all purpose flour, plus another 1/4 cup for just the gravy
Begin by heating the oil in a medium cast iron skillet. In my opinion, the cast iron is the way to go, and I have been using these skillets in most of my cooking nowadays. In the meantime, place a chunk of steak in between two large pieces of plastic wrap, and with a meat mallet, tenderize the meat, pounding out from the center, outwards, until you have about 3/4 inch thick. If you want it thinner, keep pounding it out. Repeat with the remaining chunks of meat.
Next, build your dredging station. Take the eggs and beat it with 3 tablespoons of the milk. Next, to a medium casserole dish, add two cups of the flour, and a two teaspoons of the salt and one teaspoon of the pepper. Mix well.
Dip your meat into flour, lightly coat, the, dip into the egg wash, then back into the flour mixture. Set on a rack for a couple of minutes until you have another one coated. Repeat with the other two.
Your oil should be around 350-370 degrees. Carefully add a steak into skillet, and fry for about 3-5 minutes on each side. You will notice that the juices will begin to sprout up while you are frying. When you flip to fry the other side, make sure the juices run clear.
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Once the steaks are fried, place them in the oven to keep warm as you make the gravy.
Carefully drain about 90% of the oil. You want to reserve a bit of the oil because you are going to brown the flour. So, with the remaining oil, probably four tablespoons or so, add in a quarter cup of the flour, and whisk, continuing to whisk for about two minutes. Add in the milk, about a cup at a time, roughly every four minutes or so, and continue to whisk. This is the labor intensive part, but oh so worth it. Season generously with black pepper and a bit more salt. Yes, continue to whisk.
Taste and season the gravy accordingly. Keep whisking. Once the gravy comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and continue to whisk. The gravy should be thick, but not too thick. If it becomes too thick because you haven’t whisked enough, add a bit of water to thin it out just a bit, but remember to whisk.
Remove one of the steaks from the oven, plate, and ladle the gravy over the top. Serve with your favorite biscuits.
Thank you Dallas, Texas for introducing me to something so wonderful. Enjoy.