The first time I remember eating chicken fried steak was when I was going to college in Texas. (For those of you who want to know, first to Abilene Christian University, then later to Texas Tech University, where I graduated. Some day, I should write about ACU, which is a Church of Christ college. About how I didn’t get kicked out exactly, but the dean gave me $100 and told me to leave. Oh wait, I think that IS kicked out. In a weird way. In short, I wasn’t cut out for a religious-themed university. This issue was probably related to the partying.) ANYWAY. I used to eat at a lot of hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop restaurants when I was going to Texas Tech, and I fell in love with chicken fried steak. Where had it been all my life? My mother never made it. However, it’s one of the most popular dishes in Texas, and for good reason.
The secret to a great coating on chicken fried steak is a baking mix. You can use a homemade mix, or one from the store. You can actually use any kind of steak. I even use sirloin sometimes. A bottom or round steak is traditional (and more economical). Pound on ’em to tenderize.
This recipe will coat up to two pounds or so of steaks. Adjust as needed to make more or less.
How to make Chicken Fried Steak:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons water
1 cup baking mix
1 to 2 pounds steak, cut into dinner portions
oil for frying
Heat oil (preferably in an iron skillet)–just enough to fill the bottom of the skillet. (You’re not deep-frying here.) You can use vegetable oil. I melt lard in the skillet. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in one bowl. (I like a little heat in there. You do what you want. Adjust or change the spices to your tastes.) In another bowl, whisk the eggs and water. In a third bowl, place the baking mix. Dip the steaks in that order–1) flour, salt, and pepper, 2) eggs and water, 3) baking mix.
Fry the steaks about five minutes per side on medium-high heat, or till done. If you’re going through several batches in the skillet, add more oil as needed. You can keep the finished steaks warm in the oven.
Time for gravy! I’m now in love with White Sauce Butter Balls as a white gravy quick fix. This is handy beyond belief. These butter balls, they are from the gods!
For chicken fried steak, you want to have a generous amount of gravy. Don’t be stingy here. Plan on at least 1/3 cup gravy per steak, and if you’re having mashed potatoes (you’re NOT making chicken fried steak WITHOUT mashed potatoes, ARE YOU?), then even more. For your average chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes dinner, plan on at least two cups of milk and five or six white sauce butter balls. You can make the gravy right in the skillet with the drippings and all those bits of coating that fell off into the oil and that nice beefy flavor. (If you have too much oil in there when you finish the steaks, you may need to pour some of it off before making the gravy.) I add a lot of coarse ground pepper.
Chicken fried steak’ll transport you right to Texas! Where’s the dean? Who needs $100?
P.S. You’re going to need some biscuits with that. Or cornbread. Or thick-slices of Texas toast. And country-style green beans. And probably some pie.
See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.