It’s often said by “experts” in the field of nutrition that there are no “bad” foods, but I do have to wonder about Chicken Fried Steak – it just tastes so darned good! A huge fave of Child Number Two, Kraig, who has to have it when his birthday rolls around. I pull out the cast iron and go to town. Or maybe to country?
That’s right! My son doesn’t want a steak dinner, he doesn’t want lobster, and he usually doesn’t even want to go out. He’d rather have an old down-home favorite, like this Chicken Fried Steak. With Mashed Potatoes, of course. And usually corn or fresh garden beans. And he’d rather have French Silk Pie than cake. If that’s not a classic meal, I don’t know what is. You might as well be sitting smack dab in the Midwest.
About Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy:
I grew up in Northwest Iowa and I always just knew how to cook Chicken Fried Steak. No recipe needed. I guess that’s what happens when you are an odd child and hang out in people’s kitchens and ask questions. So when I saw a recipe for Chicken Fried Steak from Cook’s Illustrated I held back a snort and read it. See, I’m always wondering if can pick up something new and always still curious about food.
And so on a whim, I tried The Cook’s Illustrated Chicken Fried Steak. And I was immediately hooked on the buttermilk, soda and baking powder crust & the bit of onion in the gravy. There were a few weird little things in the recipe that I just ignored. For instance, there was thyme in the recipe. I tried it once and put it in the recipe as optional, but no one here cared much for it in the gravy. Thyme became really popular back around the turn of the century (the 1990s) and was appearing in all kinds of recipes. Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy is such a classic and should taste like Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy. not thyme. Amirite?
That buttermilk crust with the bit of soda and baking powder, though, is pretty amazing. I’d say it’s really a game-changer. It’s perfect! And this is exactly how I will make all my Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy from now on. And we kept the bit of onion in the gravy that Cook’s used. That’s a variation I can get behind; never say no to flavor! (Unless it’s thyme in the gravy, lol!)
About Making Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy:
Usually, Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy is made with cube steak. That’s my preference, but it’s not always available at the grocery. If it isn’t you can ask the butcher to run round steak through the tenderizer. Your other option is to use round steak and pound it just like you would for Swiss Steak, Rouladen or Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches. I detailed all the steps out on my post for German Beef Rouladen. Use a meat mallet or the side of a heavy plate. Sprinkle the steak heavily with flour and pound and pound, turn and sprinkle and pound some more. And when you think you’ve pounded enough, pound a little more.
When breading, shake off the excess flour, then dip in the egg mixture and let it drip off before you place it back in the flour. Trying to build up your crust through heavy breading isn’t going to work and might make the crust bubble up, steam rather than being perfectly “crusty” and flake off in places, leaving bald spots. You just want a nice coating. Trust the process.
Sometimes people try to skimp on the oil trying to save a few calories. The steak is going to absorb what the steak needs to absorb no matter how much or little oil there is and you really do need enough in your pan. Once the steak is in the oil should be at least halfway up the steak, not over. It’s pan-fried, not deep fried. If you don’t have a thermometer, sprinkle a couple of drops of water in the oil. It should dance vigorously. The last hint I have for the most beautiful Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy: Never place it on paper toweling. That’s going to steam your beautiful crust. Put it on a rack, and if you don’t have a rack, just carefully place it right on the oven rack.
Saving Money on Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy:
This really is a reasonably priced meal, depending of course on how much the cube steaks are. Watch for them on sale at the store and chuck them in the freezer until you’re ready to cook this. Or pick up the round steak on sale. There’s never a cost to having the butcher run it through the tenderizer and it’s easy enough pound it at home, too. To substitute for the pricier buttermilk, just add a teaspoon and a half of vinegar to a measuring cup. Fill it to the 1/2 cup mark with milk and let sit for about 10 minutes to thicken up.
One thing I did snort at in the Cook’s Illustrated article: They suggested serving Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy with noodles. Uh-hunh, the sacrilege! Always serve this with Mashed Potatoes. Fabulous sides that go well are simple; you won’t want anything heavy with the rest of the meal being down-home comfort food and it would just be wrong to serve Chicken Fried Steak with anything fancy. Fresh green beans or maybe corn. Biscuits could never be wrong, either, or a simple salad.
All the sides for Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy are budget-priced, too. So there you have it, a classic meal at a reasonable price! From my home to yours, wherever you are. Enjoy! You can work out tomorrow!Print
Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy
A down-home meal.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Beef Main Dish
- Cuisine: German
For the Chicken Fried Steak:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 4 cube or minute steaks, each about 4 to 5 ounces
- Oil – enough to bring the level of the oil near the top of the steaks, but not over
For the Country Gravy:
- 1 medium onion, very finely minced (optional)
- Pinch of thyme (optional)
- 3 tablespoons flour (may use flour reserved from dipping)
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock
- 2 cups whole milk (1 or 2 percent is not as rich, but works)
- Salt as desired
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- pinch of cayenne
For the Chicken Fried Steak:
In one shallow dish, place flour, cayenne, pepper, and salt, and mix. In a second shallow dish, place egg, baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk. (The mixture will foam.) Set a wire rack over a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Set a paper sack on a large baking sheet. Heat oil to 375 degrees in your cast iron skillet as you bread the steaks.
Working with one steak at a time, gently pat steaks dry. Dip first in flour mixture and gently shake off any excess, then in the buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip off, then back into the flour mixture. Place steaks on rack. Reserve the seasoned flour, discard the excess buttermilk.
When finished, gently place steaks in the hot oil. Fry on the first side for about 5 minutes. Carefully turn when a deep golden brown and juices from the steak begin to appear on the top side. Continue to cook for another four to five minutes until the second side is a deep golden brown. Work in batches if necessary.
When the steaks are desired doneness, remove from pan and place on a baking sheet lined with a paper sack and place in oven to keep warm. Strain the oil from the pan, reserving the browned bits & oil. Return 3 tablespoons oil to the pan along with the browned bits, and make the gravy, below.
For the Country Gravy:
Over medium-high heat, cook onion with thyme (if using) until onion has softened and just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes or so, stirring often. Add flour, stirring and cook for a minute. Add stock, stirring, then milk, slowly, and rest of ingredients. Stir until bubbly and thickened. This gravy will appear a bit loose, but thickens up once off heat.
- If you use the seasoned flour, you may not need additional salt.
- A proper country gravy like this should have a pourable, but still thick consistency. Any leftovers may need to be thinned with water or milk.
- Serving Size: 1 steak, 1/4 of the gravy
- Calories: 550
- Sugar: 8g
- Sodium: 630mg
- Fat: 30g
- Saturated Fat: 6g
- Carbohydrates: 27g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 41g
- Cholesterol: 119mg
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Beef, Buttermilk, Cook's Illustrated, Country Gravy, cube steaks, Family Recipe, Gravy, Round Steak, White sauce
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