Southern comfort food never tasted so good.
Huh? I had never heard of it before—and this was before the Internet, so I couldn't Google it or anything.
So I just said "OK, Honey!" and went out and got some good old Chinese spare ribs. She thought it was great and that was the last I thought about it for a good 10 years. Then I went to Texas on business, and imagine my surprise when I saw Chicken Fried Steak on a menu (Texas claims to be the dish's birthplace). It was a real thing!
Of course I ordered it and, yes, it was a very good thing. Since then, whenever either of us sees it on a menu, we order it and enjoy it (sparingly, of course; it's not the healthiest thing you can eat!). But I had never ventured into making it until recently.
I was in Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest Eco Conference and was hanging out with Tom Phillpot, a native Texan. We were searching for a good restaurant within walking distance (not too many choices) and we got to talking about chicken fried steak (CFS).
"That's it," I said, "I'm making it as soon as I get home." For three reasons:
1. Maya and her husband Tony were coming for the weekend, so I could finally make it for her even though it wasn't her birthday.
2. If I make it myself I could use all organic ingredients.
3. It was about time I figured it out.
And so I did. And it was good. And the leftovers were consumed at breakfast the next morning. It wasn't too hard to make, but it was a bit of a production. I'd do it again when the craving strikes.
According to Tom, it must be served with mashed potatoes and green beans.
What You Need
6 tenderloin filets
Salt and pepper
olive oil (lots)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups flour
salt and black pepper
CHICKEN FRIED STEAK GRAVY:
1 cup pan drippings
1/2 cup flour (for thickening)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
salt, and pepper to taste
How to Make It
Pound the steaks flat. I put the meat between two pieces of parchment paper and then use my pounder and pound away till the meat is not more than a half-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.
In one bowl, add the milk and eggs and stir.
In another bowl, add the flour and more salt and pepper.
Put about a half-inch of olive oil in a giant cast-iron pan on top of the stove and heat till ready for frying.
Dip each piece of meat first in the milk mixture, then the flour, then milk, then flour.
Fry! Fry each piece until both sides are golden brown.
Put the steaks on a rack in a lightly heated oven until everything else is ready. If you put them on a plate with a paper towel, the bottoms might get soggy.
Make the gravy.
For the gravy: Pour out most of the olive oil until there is just a nice light coating on the bottom of the pan. Make sure you leave all the good stuff—the little bits of flavor.
In a cup, mix the flour and the chicken broth and stir together. Add to the highly heated pan and stir. The mixture will start to thicken and turn brown.
Then add the milk and stir until that thickens, too.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Put the CFS on a plate with the mashed potatoes and green beans. I serve the gravy separately so people can add their own at the table. YUM!