Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chicken Fried Steak with Southern Style Peppered Milk Gravy

Cube steaks, dredged in seasoned flour, fried in fat and bacon drippings and drizzled with a peppered milk gravy.
Cube steaks, dredged in seasoned flour, fried in fat and bacon drippings and drizzled with a peppered milk gravy.

Chicken Fried Steak

It would be a rare Southerner who does not preserve and use their bacon drippings, and I'd venture a bet that most of us have a jar or grease pot somewhere in our kitchen or fridge. Bacon fat is great for adding flavor to many dishes anytime that you need just a bit of fat, so we Southern cooks save those drippings every time we have the opportunity to fry up a bit of bacon... which of course we try to do as often as possible. We will use some of those drippings here.

Chicken fried steak is definitely a mainstay of the South. It's really just a simple cube steak, dredged in seasoned flour, and topped with a milk gravy that is born out of a simple blond roux made with some kind of fat - butter, and very often, bacon fat - and pan drippings with a bit of flour.

Instead of using water or some type of stock as our gravy base, here we add in milk, or you may also use a combination of both water and milk, to form a creamy smooth gravy. If you start this off with a bit of browned bulk pork sausage and then finish off the gravy, you've got yourself a mighty fine sausage gravy for some homemade biscuits.

Now there are a couple of different ways to finish off these chicken fried steaks. Some folks like to return their steaks back into the gravy after they are browned, but to me that is a whole 'nother meal. I call that a country style steak, or more commonly, simply cube steaks and gravy. Another method is to transfer the browned steaks to a baking dish, pour the gravy on top and bake it in the oven.

Personally, I prefer that my chicken fried steak retain its crunch - so I don't dredge mine in the gravy. Instead, I just spoon some of the gravy over the center of each crispy steak and offer the rest of the gravy at the table. The perfect side for this dish is, of course, homemade mashed potatoes, but you may sure serve it up with some rice, beans or whatever sides you like. True, this one is not exactly for the calorie conscience or perpetual dieter, but certainly a warm and comforting, occasional meal. Here's how to make it.

Get some oil going in a skillet - you'll want about a half cup, depending on the size skillet you're using, plus I like to add in some of that glorious bacon fat for flavor. While the oil is heating, set up a dipping station - just two shallow bowls will do.

In one of them put 2 eggs, 1 cup of buttermilk or whole milk, and about a tablespoon of hot sauce - more if you like. In the other, whisk together 2 cups of flour - I like to use self-rising flour but you may substitute plain all-purpose if that's what you have on hand, adding in some crushed saltine crackers for extra crunch. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons of seasoning salt, some freshly cracked black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder. Once you mix up the flour, scoop out 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour and set aside to use later for the gravy.

Sprinkle cube steaks with Cajun seasoning and use a meat mallet to pound that in. Try to pound the steaks very thin as they do tend to swell a bit as they cook. Season and pound on both sides. Cut the cube steaks into smaller serving sized pieces, or "finger" strips, if you like.

Dredge the cube steaks in the seasoned flour.

Then dip them into the milk and egg wash.

Then back into the flour.

Set aside on a plate while the oil is heating.

Carefully slide the meat into the hot oil, immediately moving it around to make sure it does not stick. You want some oil to get up under the meat right away so that it starts to cook the flour.

Cook the cube steaks in batches - you don't want to overcrowd the skillet, so I usually do three steaks at a time. Cook over a medium to medium high heat until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side - how long will depend on the thickness of the steaks.

Place the cooked steaks on a rack and keep warm in the oven, or tent very loosely with foil.

For the gravy, you'll want about 1/4 cup of fat, so remove most of the oil and return only 1/4 cup of fat. For extra richness, I like to add butter to the skillet, then return enough of the oil to equal 1/4 cup fat. Sprinkle in the reserved 1/4 cup of seasoned flour a little at a time.

Use a wooden spoon, scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and cook until mixture is blended in and smooth, and a very light blond color.

Begin whisking in 1-1/2 cups of milk very quickly.

Until it is incorporated well.

Bring mixture to a boil and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Adjust consistency as needed by adding more milk.

Season gravy with salt and pepper; taste and adjust.

Retrieve the steaks from the oven, place one or two on each plate and spoon a bit of the gravy across the center of the steak.

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Recipe: Chicken Fried Steak with Southern Style Peppered Milk Gravy

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 40 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 6 cube steaks (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil, plus 2 tablespoons of bacon fat
  • 2 cups self-rising flour, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt (like Lawry's)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
  • 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, optional
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, along with pan drippings to equal 1/4 cup
  • Reserved 1/4 cup seasoned flour
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to the lowest setting to hold cooked steaks. Place a rack on top of a baking sheet and set aside. Heat the oil and bacon fat in a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium to medium high, to 350 degrees F.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, seasoning salt, pepper and garlic powder; remove and set aside 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour mixture. In another bowl, beat the 1 cup of milk with the two eggs and hot sauce. Lightly sprinkle the cube steaks with the Cajun seasoning and pound the seasoning in. Cut steaks into smaller serving pieces, if desired.

Dredge the steaks first in the seasoned flour, shaking to remove the excess flour, then dip them into the egg wash, and back into the flour; set aside on a platter while oil is heating. Carefully slide the meat into the hot oil, immediately moving it around to make sure it does not stick. Cook the cube steaks in batches over a medium to medium high heat until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Place the cooked steaks on the prepared rack and keep warm in the oven.

For the gravy, drain off most the oil. Add butter to skillet and return enough of the oil as needed to equal a total of 1/4 cup of fat. Sprinkle in the reserved 1/4 cup of seasoned flour, and using a wooden spoon, cook and stir constantly, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until mixture is blended in and a very light blond color.

Begin whisking in 1-1/2 cups of milk very quickly, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken. Adjust consistency as needed by adding more milk. Season gravy with salt and pepper; taste and adjust. Retrieve the steaks from the oven, place one or two on each plate and spoon a bit of the gravy across the center of the steak. Serve with mashed potatoes and southern green beans.

Cook's Notes: When you add the Cajun seasoning and pound the steaks, be sure to pound them thin as they do tend to swell up as they cook. I like to use self-rising flour because it gives a crunchier crust, but you may substitute plain, all-purpose flour if that is all you have on hand, and mix in 1/2 pack of saltine crackers that have been finely crushed. Don't be tempted to overcook the meat or it will be tough. Length of time will depend on how thick they are, but generally no more than 4 to 5 minutes per side for even the thickest steaks is all that is needed.

Chicken Fried Steak Fingers: Cube steaks may also be cut into 1-inch strips and breaded as steak fingers.

Oven Baked: Bring gravy to a near boil, reduce heat to simmer and place steaks into the gravy, turning to coat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on medium low for 15 to 20 minutes, turning at least once. May also finish in the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the browned steaks into a casserole dish. Pour gravy on top, cover and bake for about 20 minutes. May also add sauteed onion on top of the steaks before pouring on the gravy, if desired.

Shortcut Gravy: To make a quick gravy, after removing the steaks from the skillet, stir in one can of cream of mushroom soup and 1/2 soup can of water or milk.

Click Here for Tips to Help the Coating Adhere and Not Fall Off

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on April 7, 2009

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  1. MMMMM... Country fried steak is oh so good! Especially with some mashed tators and biscuits!

  2. You're talkin' my language there Kriste!!

  3. Oh, I will have to make this for Papa. He will go nuts!!!!!

  4. This is my hubby's ultimate comfort food, he would eat it everyday. That is if I would fix it for him! I don't because I don't want to overeat, HA!

  5. I hear ya! I always make myself exactly ONE otherwise, I'd eat oh, about THREE!!! :)

  6. This is what I always order at restaurants. . .but here I live in Utah and I'm sure we don't make it right. :) I'm getting some steaks in my co-op box next month and I've been thinking this recipe would be good for it. And then you post the recipe! You rock.

    And my fiber-one box came. I LOVE it!! The water bottle rocks!

  7. Hi Nanette! I think you'll like it - enjoy!!

    Hey Krystal!! I thought it was a neat little package and hey, the coupons alone were worth entering for!

  8. Love it, and I do have my bacon grease in the frig!!!!

  9. :) on the bacon grease!!!

    You can do it Joyce - just make sure that the roux is not too hot when you go to stir in the liquids. That's why I move it off the burner but it depends on what skillet you are using. I don't like using cast iron for roux (except for the oven roux) because it retains heat so well, that it can burn the roux quick. Also a heavy bottomed stainless skillet holds the heat really well too, so you just have to let the pan cool just a tad before trying to incorporate the liquids. And course you have to be quick on the draw with the whisk too!

    1. I don't think self rising flour makes good gravy. Use all purpose and you won't have any problems.

    2. Well.... I used self rising here because that's what I coat my steaks with & I think my gravy works out pretty good, so I'd have to disagree with that! The only difference is that there's a little leavening in there but it works fine.

  10. talk to me about bacon grease mary, I live in utah, and keeping bacon grease is unheard of! I made your breakfast queasadilla this morning, and poured the grease from the bacon into a jar. Do I just keep adding to it, and keep it in the fridge?

  11. Yep Krystal - that's it! Just let it cool a little bit before adding it to the cold jar and remember to use it, that's all!! I don't know what the shelf life is for it but it will last a long time.

  12. Oh hey, I made some killer white gravy for these with cream of mushroom soup. I found this recipe on one of my foodie friends blog. It was awesome. The "jar" is a common thing lol

  13. I HAVE GOT to try this.. My husband keeps bugging me to make it, this looks unbelievable!!

  14. Oh yum! I'm gonna have to try this--especially the gravy. My husband and I have tried to make homemade gravy and it's always missing something. We don't eat real bacon (we eat the turkey bacon) so I guess we'll try the canola oil. Thanks! Great blog, by the way!



  15. That looks so good. I only get chicken fried steak when we go to Lamberts Restaurant. Along with fried okra, fried hash brown taters, macaroni and tomato and mashed potatoes with gravy! My son and daughter just moved within 3 miles or so of a Lamberts. So maybe now I'll still getting it more often. I'd make it at home, but I don't do frying with fat and flour. Too much a family history of heart disease to make that a habit at home. Yours looks delish!

  16. Man...I love chicken fried steak. I just want to rub the gravy all over myself and run around in circles.

  17. Redkathy - you know that I love cream of mushroom LOL!

    Donna - it's really pretty easy. I hope you give it a try!

    Rocksee - thanks! It's good stuff for sure.

    Shaylynn - sounds like MY kinda place!!!

    WTM - LMAO!!!

  18. Chicken fried steak with gravy is one of my favorites. Haven't had it in some time. Weight control you know. Boy is this tempting.:->

  19. Auntie E - I sure know what you mean!! Every since I started this blog and tried getting all of my favorites up... well, let's just say that I'm not real friendly with my scale these days LOL! But ... for those of you not trying to build a recipe base for a blog, it's all about pacing yourself and keeping things balanced! This - as are most of our southern goodies - are best for one of those occasional treats!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  20. I feel like Homer Simpson looking at those pictures.


    I'm a southern gal and I LOVE chicken fried chicken and chicken fried steak. I love how Chili's serves it up with mashed potatos, Tx Toast and perfectly buttered and seasoned corn. I top it off with some sweet tea. Mmm.

  21. Me too Mya ... that sounds like the making of a great meal to me!

  22. Hi Mary, I already planned to cook fried steak tonight, I may as well make the gravey and biscuits to go with it! Thanks! :)

  23. Made these 2 nights ago. I love chicken fried steak and the country gravy over mashed spuds. The more pepper the better.
    I use buttermilk at times for the wet between dredging in flour.

  24. Delicious! I've been making a similar recipe for years but never tired the Cajun seasoning on the steaks. Hubby and I loved it! I do make gravy in my cast iron pan, you just have to let it cool a few minutes before making the roux. Add additional milk or water if gravy gets too thick when using a cast iron pan (after cooking the steaks) because the gravy thickens up faster. This recipe is a keeper! I really appreciate the tips on how to keep the coating to adhere on fried meat. I always let them rest 10 minutes but longer is better. All the tips were helpful. And I found that self-rising flour really does work best. I always used all-purpose but I won't from now on when frying breaded meat. Thanks Mary.

    1. You're welcome - glad y'all enjoy the steaks! Cast iron is so good for that once you get used to using one - it really retains the heat and I do love frying foods with self rising flour. The AP works fine but is a softer crust so I like the texture from SR when frying.

  25. I make this a lot, with a few changes, first I pound the steaks thin (this makes them very tender) second I use a crushed cracker coating which gives it some extra crunch! Takes a little extra time but is well worth it!

  26. Replies
    1. Aw, thanks! :) I'm just a good ole country cook really though.

  27. This classic is a staple in our southern kitchen! Your recipe is the best!

  28. Oh, Chicken Fried Steak! With Mashed Potatos!! When is dinner? Oh no, I can't wait.
    Your photos are terrific. I am trying to eat my monitor, but it's yucky. When is dinner? Again.

  29. This was an amazing Sunday dinner!! I think using the self rising flour makes a big difference in the coating, so much better.
    I have never made gravy before this so I was really horrified about everything that could go wrong. But I followed your instructions completely and whisked like crazy and it was smooth and thickened very nicely. The gravy had a very nice color and very flavorful. I also made your muffin tin spoon rolls, ahh good! Just an incredible Sunday dinner for us, thank you so much!

    1. You are so welcome!! Thanks so much for stopping back by to share your experience too - that always means a lot.

  30. Just made this and omg it is freaking awesoooome. I use online recipes all the time but this is the first time I have ever reviewed one that is how good it is my hubby and boys loved it also so it's part of my recipes now thank you for helping me nail one of my favorite recipes that my grandma used to make when I was growing up

  31. Omg just made this and it is freaking awesoooome and believe me it is because I use online recipes all the time but this is the first time I have ever reviewed one that is how good it is my hubby and boys loved it also thank you for helping me nail one of my favorite recipes that my grandma used to make growing up

  32. Have tried for years and years to make a decent chicken fried steak without success. This was it! Can't believe how easy and fast this made up!
    Husband is practicing push-backs, and it about broke his heart not to reach for 2nds. All my other attempts, he didn't finish the first steak! Thank you again, Mary.
    I didn't make your gravy recipe as hubby has this simple mix gravy he adores with chicken fried anything. This was all for him, so I made his and used an iron skillet for the steaks. He took me out for lobster on Valentines, and he won't eat fish, so this was for him. Next time, I'm trying your gravy.
    And you are so right about everything bad for you in small amounts if it tastes good. He's lost almost 40 pounds since September. Looking sexy! so I won't mess with his success. But I finally made one of his favs at home and got big hugs. Whippee!

    1. You're welcome! I think the keys are that little bit of bacon drippings added into the frying oil, adding a little seasoning directly to the meat as well as to the flour & using self rising flour. Congrats to your husband - wow, 40 pounds is incredible. Of course, men have a faster burning metabolism than women, so if I were on the same plan as him, I probably would have dropped 10 lol! Having a southern food blog doesn't help either... oh well, it is what it is, right? Thanks for stopping by to let me know your husband enjoyed the meal. It's always good to hear from you!!


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