Let’s talk Chicken Fried Steak. Arguably one of the most delicious, decadent foods that one person could ever eat. Fellow Southerners absolutely know what I’m talking about (I mean, how could you not?).
But don’t worry, I won’t fault you if this is new territory for you because I’m more than pleased knowing its about to change your life. First, let me give you a little background info.
WHAT IS CHICKEN FRIED STEAK?
Chicken fried steak is a dish in which a cut of beef, usually thin and from the round, is breaded and fried.
WHAT STEAK SHOULD I USE?
Most people use cube steak because it is already tender and ready to be fried but many steaks can be used but will require tenderizing in order for it to pierce easily with a fork once cooked.
You can also find it made from pork as well. It’s preparation is about the same as that of fried chicken, which is how it got its name.
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
The origin of chicken fried steak, also known as country fried steak or pan fried steak, is very interesting. Recipes for batter-fried steaks can be found in various Southern Cookbooks that date back to the early 1800’s.
Before modern food safety practices and methods of food storage, making inexpensive and tough cuts of meat was a necessity; breading and frying always did the trick. This Southern delicacy is so popular now that it’s served almost anywhere, from diners to five-star restaurants. It can be prepared in several ways, from burgers to breakfast platters. It is still prepared with tough cuts of meat; however, there are also other varieties made with rib eye or tenderloin.
Today, you can enjoy the battered steak throughout the USA, but the states with the best-known recipes exist exclusively in the South. There’s something comforting and addictive about warm fried meat under thick gravy served with your choice of vegetable and buttery mashed potatoes. There’s nothing else in the world quite like it.
There are few things in this entire world that I remember loving more than Chicken Fried Steak. I know that is a very lofty statement which you might think has a hint of exaggeration but I can’t begin to tell you how true that statement is. Even to this day, when it’s raining outside, I’ve had a bad day or I’m missing a bit of home, I reach for this recipe. It’s comfort compares to no other; each bite truly soothes the soul. For others, it might be a bowl of mac and cheese or a slice of chocolate cake, but I like to think they just haven’t had chicken fried steak yet. At least not the way I make it.
The funny thing is my mother never made a chicken fried steak recipe. Neither did my big mama. So where did this obsession for chicken fried steak come from? Well it actually came from a random southern restaurant I had the dish at when I was a kid. The rest as they say is history. Each year after starting around the age of 7, I wanted chicken fried steak for my birthday so we went everywhere from Cracker Barrel to Chili’s so I could have it.
When I became an adult, I realized I could make it at home. I hunted endlessly for the perfect recipe, trial and error became my best friends. At times the meat was too tough, the breading wasn’t crispy enough or it just needed more salt. But no matter how many times I failed I kept trying in hopes that eventually I’d have exactly what I was looking for. And guess what folks, I’ve got it.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
This is my favorite recipe which I developed a few years ago. If you have any cube steak lying around, this is a great way to use it.
With cube steak recipes, it must be tender and well seasoned with a perfectly golden brown crispy crust. I start with cube steak because it cuts down on some of the tenderizing.
You won’t believe how great you can become at frying steak. I prefer a cube steak because it has already been tenderized by being beaten with a mallet. Each bite breaks down much easier this way.
THE BEST BATTER FOR COUNTRY FRIED STEAK
Tip: To create a wonderful batter that creates a crunchy and deliciously crispy crust, start with a buttermilk bath! Ingredients like hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce add additional flavor that really gets right into the meat before you add a flour to it!
This flour breading is too die for! The ingredients that really take it over the top are:
- Flour (all purpose is standard for this)
- Cornstarch – it adds such an incredibly crispy texture whenever it is added to fry breadings!!
- Garlic Powder
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne – this kick of spice is nice y’all!
HOW TO MAKE GRAVY
This country gravy has bits of onion, garlic and spice. Most chicken fried steaks have a white gravy and that’s what you will mostly find here. Because I added additional spices, it tints the color just a bit. You can also brown the roux made here a bit more to add more flavor and color if you would like a brown gravy but the traditional way includes a lighter gravy like the one pictured here.
No matter what way you choose to make it, I assure you that it’ll be crazy delicious. The gravy’s texture is smooth and rich, don’t even get me started on the way it coats your mashed potatoes. Each bite melts in the mouth and the flavor balance out perfectly.
Add your favorite mashed potatoes along with my easy homemade garlic bread, and this is perfect chicken fried steak recipe in every sense of the phrase. I no longer crave this because I make it right at home whenever I want, and boy oh boy is it delicious!
For the Steaks:
- 4 cube steaks
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 4-5 cups oil for frying
For the Gravy:
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots or onions
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups chicken or beef stock
- pinch cayenne
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: Ground pepper and parsley for garnish
For the steaks:
- To a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
- To another bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and cayenne.
- Submerge steaks to buttermilk and marinate for at least 1 hour. (2 hours preferred.)
- Dip steaks, one at a time, into seasoned flour mixture coating each side then back into marinade then back into seasoned flour then finally place on a baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Add oil to cast iron skillet or frying pan and heat oven medium high heat. Also preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Once oil is hot and ready, fry each steak on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels then place steaks on parchment covered baking sheets and put in the oven while you make the gravy.
For the gravy:
- Add 1/4 cup of the oil from frying to a saute pan over medium.
- Add in shallots or onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes while stirring.
- Next stir in flour and cook creating a roux (think a delicious light brown color). Cook until browned (but not burned).
- Stir in milk and stock and turn heat up to high heat until boiling then turn heat down to medium low and allow to thicken until it coats the back of a spoon.
- Turn off heat and spoon gravy on top of steaks. Sprinkle with ground pepper and parsley and serve hot with mashed potatoes if you prefer.