I grew up in the Texas countryside. If people said they felt like going out for a steak, it wasn’t for a juicy medium rare hunk of well marbled beef at a fancy steakhouse. No, they were headed to the best roadhouse restaurant in the area for chicken fried steak with cream gravy, mashed potatoes and some long simmered vegetable. This perfectly battered and fried piece of meat with its golden crust topped with thick, peppery gravy is probably more popular than barbecue or Tex-Mex food in Texas.
This dish may remind you of Wiener Schnitzel. Many of the early settlers of Texas came from Germany and a lot of people credit them for this popular Texas dish. I would say that the biggest difference in the two is the crust. Chicken fried steak is usually a piece of top round beef that has been tenderized, and double dredged in flour and an egg wash for an extra thick and crispy crust like fried chicken. And no true Texan would eat this dish with brown gravy…no it must be cream gravy made from the drippings and crispy bits left in the skillet after pan frying the meat.
After getting back from our trip where I had wonderful schnitzel, I had a craving for this meal from my past. I have decided to give you my version of this popular dish. If you try it, I think you will find out why it is such a popular dish not only in Texas but throughout much of the south.
Chicken Fried Steak
- 4 to 6 oz. portions of good quality tenderized top round beef (sometimes called cubed steak) or pound your own from beef that has no fat or gristle and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 c. buttermilk to marinate the beef for 20 minutes (this optional step helps tenderize the meat)
- 1 – 2 eggs beaten with a little milk (buttermilk will make a thicker crust)
- 1 -2 c. flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper
- enough peanut or canola oil to come halfway up the side of the steaks for pan frying
Marinate the meat for about 20 minutes in buttermilk to help tenderize the meat.
Dip the meat into the egg wash and then into the seasoned flour. Repeat this step one more time. Let rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack to help the crust stick when frying. Heat oil in a heavy skillet until shimmering but not smoking. Add meat and cook 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown then turn and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack and keep warm while you prepare the gravy.
As far as the cream gravy, I make this without a real recipe. You pour out all the oil from the skillet except a couple of tablespoons and leave in all the crispy bits. I then sprinkle some of the flour that I used to dredge the meat and whisk until it comes together as a roux and cook for one of two minutes. I then add about a half cup of chicken stock and loosen up the brown bits. I then slowly whisk in a cup of milk and let simmer until thick. I then season the gravy with salt and quite a bit of black pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. The quantities of oil, flour and milk depend on the amount of gravy you wish to end up with.
Serve the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. I usually like tiny green beans cooked with onion and a little bacon. This is a comfort dish out of my past that brought back good memories of home. I hope you will enjoy the recipe.