Growing up, one of the dishes that I would always order if it was on a restaurant menu was Chicken Fried Steak. I loved the stuff.
The last time I had chicken fried steak, however, was before Cate was born. It was at a restaurant in Orange County and it was only okay. So, I must admit, I have kind of shied away from the dish since that night.
But a few weeks ago I got a hankering and decided to try my hand at making the stuff myself.
I followed Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for cooking the steak and Ree Drummond’s recipe for making the gravy. The result? Chicken fried steak in all its rich, delicious glory. For REAL…the fried breading part on this steak was to die for. I’ve never had a desire to fry chicken at home, but after this I am seriously considering it!
Also, I used a thermometer and followed the directions precisely. I love it when Cook’s Illustrated recipes have a temperature to work with, I feel like success is much more imminent that way. Another ALSO…Nate has an infrared thermometer (science nerd alert!) that worked PERFECTLY for this. The surface of the oil reads the correct temperature and it’s a super fast way to read the temp. Speed is good when you’re frying food.
Note: this is not a difficult recipe, but it is a bit labor intensive. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya. This might be a good recipe to tackle on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
- 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 6 cube steaks, pounded to ⅓ inch thickness
- cooking oil for frying (Jane note: I used canola oil)
- Getting the initial oil temperature to 375 degrees is key to the success of this recipe. An instant-read thermometer with a high upper range is perfect for checking the temperature; a clip-on candy/deep-fry thermometer is also fine. If your Dutch oven measures 11 inches across (as ours does), you will need to fry the steaks in two batches.
- For the steaks: Measure the flour, 5 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne into a large shallow dish. In a second large shallow dish, beat the egg, baking powder, and baking soda; stir in the buttermilk (the mixture will bubble and foam).
- Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper to taste. Dip steaks into the flour, both sides, shaking off excess. Using tongs, dip the steaks into the egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing the excess to drip off. Coat the steaks with flour again, shake off the excess, and place them on the wire rack.
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, set a second wire rack over a second rimmed baking sheet, and place the sheet on the oven rack; heat the oven to 200 degrees. (Jane note: I DID set up this wire rack in the oven, however. I wouldn’t skip this step! You will be cooking the steaks in batches and you want the ones that are already cooked to say hot and crispy throughout the process.) Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels. Meanwhile, heat 1 inch of oil in a large (11-inch diameter) Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Place three steaks in the oil and fry, turning once, until deep golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes (oil temperature will drop to around 335 degrees). Transfer the steaks to the paper towel-lined plate to drain, then transfer them to the wire rack in the oven. Bring the oil back to 375 degrees and repeat the cooking and draining process (use fresh paper towels) with the three remaining steaks.
Jane note: the steaks were pretty large, so I believe I had to cook in three batches.
- ¼ cup of the grease from cooking the steaks
- ⅓ cup flour
- 1½ cup whole milk (or whatever milk you have in the fridge)
- salt and pepper
- After all meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup grease back to the pan. Allow grease to heat up.
- Sprinkle ⅓ cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix flour with grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Keep cooking until it reaches a deep golden brown color. If paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour and whisk.
- Whisking constantly, pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until gravy is smooth and thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.