Fried chicken and chicken fried steak always held the prime spot on mom’s weekly menu: Sunday dinner. And since I grew up a little country, I’m talking about “lunch” when I say “Sunday dinner.”
We grew up eating breakfast, lunch, and supper. After church on Sunday afternoon, we had Sunday dinner and watched football. Grandma always called her mid-day meal dinner. She also uses country-isms like “pert near” for almost. Are we there yet? “Pert near!” I think my absolute favorite is “d’rectly” instead of soon (directly without the “extra” i). “Well be over there d’rectly.”
Sometimes, I slip up and reveal my countrier side and get the crazy look when I say supper. “Ice box” is another one that will get me the “you’re definitely from Texas” look.
Chicken fried steak is most decidedly a “Sunday dinner” kind of meal. It’s a labor of breaded love drowned in creamy gravy. When your family of 2.5 is starving and the Colts game is paused until dinner is on the table, it can feel like it takes forty forevers to heat that oil. And not unlike even the simplest dishes that I make, it also seems to get a bunch of dishes dirty. But the bonus is that if I’m gonna make a mess like that, I’m gonna make enough for both Sunday dinner and supper.
They key to good fried anything is the breading. Seasoned, thick, and crunchy is preferred when we’re talking about chicken fried steak. There are as many breading techniques as there are edible items that you can bread – just check out your local county and state fairs!
I used to let things sit in buttermilk overnight for frying but then switched to an instant gratification not-quite-sour-cream marinade of heavy cream and vinegar. It’s thicker than buttermilk and it only takes a few minutes. It also clings really well to the meat and holds on to a lot of flour. Frying produces a tasty and crunchy breading.
Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy
Crispy Texas-style chicken fried steaks and cream gravy.
- For the steak:
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Tobasco
- 4 cube steaks or tenderized round steaks
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- 2 tsp Tony Chachere (or your favorite seasoned salt)
- For the gravy:
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp pan drippings
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- Make the chicken fried steak: Heat ~1-inch vegetable oil in a cast iron pan/dutch oven to 350.
- Place steaks in a shallow dish.
- Stir cream, vinegar, and Tobasco in a small bowl until just combined (it can thicken rather quickly - and it's okay if it does).
- Pour over steaks. Move steaks around a bit with your tongs to ensure that you coat the bottom.
- In a separate shallow dish, combine flour, a generous amount of fresh-ground black pepper, and Tony Cachere's and mix well.
- When the oil is ready, transfer one steak at a time from the "wet pan" to the "dry pan." Dredge in flour, ensuring complete coverage, shake off any excess flour, and place on a plate. Repeat for as many steaks as you can fit in your frying pan.
- Transfer steaks to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes.
- Flip and fry until breading is golden brown, another 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and place on a rack sitting over a baking dish (I put paper towels under the rack for easier clean up).
- Serve topped with a generous ladle of cream gravy.
- Make the gravy: Add butter and pan drippings to a 2qt sauce pan over medium heat. When melted and bubbly, add flour, salt, and a generous amount of fresh-ground pepper. Stir until the roux turns light brown.
- Stream in milk, whisking continuously. Cook to a boil and remove from heat.
Yields: 4 servings
Estimated time: 30 minutes