Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

Anytime I think of chicken fried steak I always think of my dad. Is it weird that I have a lot of memories associated to food and my dad? On Sundays, after church, we'd always go to Chili's for lunch. Well my dad always got chicken fried steak. I was never sure of what chicken fried steak really was. Was it chicken? Was it steak? All I knew was that it was not the healthiest dish.

For some reason I had the desire to try this meal out. Never had it in a restaurant, but I decided to give Rachael Ray's version a go:

Chicken Fried Steaks and Creamed Pan Gravy with Biscuits

1 1/2 lbs (1/2" thick) round steak - I got the thin cut kind
1 cup + 2 Tb. flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 eggs beaten - Could probably get away with using only 1 egg
2 Tb. water
4 Tb. vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups of beef broth or stock
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1 package back-off biscuits, prepared according to package directions
Wax paper

Preheat large, heavy skillet over medium high heat.

Pound steaks to 1/4" thick between two pieces of wax paper. Pull steaks off work surface and set aside. Pour 1/2 cup of flour into two different piles or dishes. Add cornmeal, paprika, salt and pepper to 1 pile of flour. Beat eggs and water in a pie plate or shallow dish.

Cut steaks into four portions and coat in flour, then eggs, then seasoned flour and cornmeal.

Add 2 Tb. oil to hot pan and cook two steaks at a time. Brown steaks about two minutes per side or until cooked. Remove from pan. Add 2 more Tb. of oil to the pan and repeat with remaining steaks. I heated my oven to 200 degrees and put the finished steaks on a pan in the oven to keep warm.

When the second batch is finished, pour off all but 2 to 3 Tb. of the drippings. Add 2 Tb. of flour to drippings and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and season with salt and pepper. Whisk half and half or cream into gravy. When gravy bubbles, remove from heat.

Serve steaks and warm biscuits with gravy on top.

Mmmm.... Golden crust with creamy gravy.

The first time I made this dish, I over cooked the meat and it was tough. This time, I bought thin cut meat and even though I didn't pound it to 1/4" thickness, I didn't over cook it this time. I figured the more important thing was to get the breading nice and crispy. If the meat was a little pink on the inside, it'd be ok.

Luckily the meat was nice and tender this time around. The crust, while it wasn't crunchy like a fried chicken breading, still had a good texture. I really like the cornmeal mixed in because it gives it a grittier feeling. Of course, the gravy made the dish. I used cream instead of half and half, which gave it a smoother and thicker consistency. It also packed a lot of flavor with the pan drippings.

Wes couldn't get over this dish. He had this meal twice for leftovers and even asked if there was more a few days later. I think it ranks pretty high on the list of meals I've made. I served this with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. No biscuits. Pretty southern meal if you ask me.

I told my dad about this meal with Wes raving about it and my dad got pretty excited about it. Now if only my mom would make it for him. It's an easy recipe to make with few ingredients and steps. The most difficult part is knowing when to take the meat out so it doesn't over cook. Since the meat is thin, it doesn't take long to cook either. It's actually a pretty quick meal. I think the mashed potatoes took the longest to cook.

If you're craving some Southern comfort food, give this quick and easy meal a try. Happy cooking!

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