Growing up, I remember going to Chili's restaurant with friends and my favorite dish to order was their Chicken Fried Steak. It's not exactly the healthiest dish so ordering it was always a reason to splurge and cast any healthy meal choices for the day. It's been ages (years?) since I had Chicken Fried Steak, because I don't particularly fry food very often. Not until I visited Texas, did I begin to have a craving for chicken fried steak. I came across this darn good recipe and I don't think I'll ever go out for Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy again. Making it from scratch and learning the 'secret' to a crisp batter is enough to keep me making it in my own kitchen from now on!
Oddly, there's no chicken involved in this recipe. I'm not sure how the name came about but I learned that making something 'chicken fried' doesn't just mean dredging in flour or dipping in egg. Oh no... it takes a little more than that to get it just right! What I did learn was the secret to perfecting chicken fried steak is the oil temperature. It's absolutely key to get the oil to 375 degrees before frying. As the oil heats up, cube steaks are seasoned and dredged in lightly seasoned flour. The steaks are then dipped in a mixture of whisked egg, buttermilk, baking powder and baking soda. After resting on a cooling rack to remove any excess egg mixture, the steaks are dredge in flour once again before frying to a golden brown.
But that's only half the deliciousness. The other half is the gravy! Some of the drippings from frying is used in the gravy, imparting additional flavor. Minced onions, dried thyme and minced garlic are sautéed in the drippings. Flour is added to thicken it up and then chicken stock deglazes the pan. Milk is whisked in and in no time, a thick, creamy, flavorful gravy is ready to top your steaks and mashed potatoes. I would recommend doubling the gravy recipe, especially if you plan on serving the steaks with mashed potatoes!
Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy
recipe from Cook's Illustrated
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
6 cube steaks, pounded to 1/3 inch thickness
cooking oil for frying