Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak = Love

Don requested Chicken Fried Steak, so I made it tonight.  But his request was specific; there had to be home fries, Texas toast and cream gravy.  Just like at Dee Tee's in Midlothian.  Dee Tee's is one of those timeless places that serves good ol' comfort food.  And nothing else.  Tried and true recipes over the course of many years.  And while Don hasn't been there in a long time, his fond memories include Chicken Fried Steak.
I have a recipe that I've only ever used once before and remembered that with a little adjusting, it would be good.  And it was.  I just don't make CFS very often; it makes a mess of the kitchen--it's a lot of oil, etc.  And I sure wasn't cooking it outside in this heat. Especially knowing I was going to fry the fries, twice.  I like to fry them first to get the inside cooked, then throw them back in and crisp them up.  And I did three batches (so six)--too many to be hanging around a hot pot of oil outside.  I started the fries in a cast iron dutch oven on the stove, then once I got them half done, I started the steaks.  But rewind--the recipe is just making sure your dredging and batter are well seasoned.  I mentioned earlier that I knew I wanted to adjust some things from the previous time I used this recipe.  You know how I love the Food Network, and this is a Tyler Florence recipe.

Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy

  • 2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat (already processed cube steak works fine!)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk or whole milk
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot sauce, to taste

In a medium flat dish add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt and pepper, to taste, and combine well. In another flat dish stir together the eggs, buttermilk and hot sauce, to taste, and season well with salt and pepper, to taste. Cut beef into 4 (1/2-inch) thick slices then pound out using the teeth side of a meat mallet. This tenderizes the meat. Dredge each piece of meat in the seasoned flour, then in the seasoned buttermilk and back into the flour, allowing excess to drip off. Set out on a rack fitted over a baking sheet and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 20 to 25 minutes before cooking.
Add about 2 inches vegetable oil to a large cast iron pan and heat over medium-high heat to 365 degrees F. Once heated and working in batches, fry steaks 2 to 3 at a time until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove steaks and drain on a paper towels.
Carefully remove some the fat from the cast iron pan, reserving 1/4 cup. With the pan over medium heat, sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of flour and whisk to make a roux, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Once the flour has been fully incorporated slowly add the buttermilk and milk and continue to whisk until the gravy is nice and thick. Season well with salt and plenty ground black pepper, then whisk in hot sauce, to taste. Place the steaks on a serving platter, top with gravy and serve.

The only adjustments I made was not to use any hot sauce, never have (sorry, Tyler, don't see the point) and I use less garlic powder and onion powder.  Not much, just remembered those seasonings coming back to haunt me last time.  So I cut those down to about a tablespoon each.  I did have some buttermilk, so I mixed it with whole milk for the batter.  I think what makes this nice is the dredging, battering and back to dredging.  It ensures that the breading will stay on throughout the cooking process.
But really, the star of this show is the gravy.  I used my super large cast iron skillet for the steaks, and once I'd removed most of the used oil, the gravy came alive.  There were just enough beautiful bits in the pan to make it wonderful.  And my weird thing (works every time!) that I do to make sure I get the salt right is--I hover over the pan and smell the steam coming up.  When it's a little "salty" I know I've added enough.
Needless to say, we over-ate.  Mom made the Texas toast on the electric griddle (remember--I had a mess going on over at the stove!) and it was lovely.  Buttery and crispy all in the same bite!

Well, gotta have some comfort food occasionally, right?  Thanks Don, for your request.  We all came out winners on this deal.

Happy Eating!