Some of you might be a little intimidated by the Texas food legend. The state dish of Texas actually came from German immigrants, and the recipe evolved from a very similar dishes called Weiner-schnitzel and Jägerschnitzel. These traditional German dishes are made with tenderized veal or pork cutlets breaded in bread crumbs, fried, and often served with brown gravy. When the Germans came to Texas, beef was more plentiful, so they modified their recipes and created a new form of deliciousness. The chicken fried steak is a very simple recipe, but oftentimes, hard to perfect. You don't have to leave this dish to the diner pros, you can make an amazing chicken fried steak at home with just a few easy tips!
#1. Choose your meat: Be sure to get tenderized beef cube steak at you local grocer. I've tried using tenderized beef round, and other cuts, but it never comes out the same as good, old fashioned cube steak. A great perk for this dish is that it's very inexpensive. Since cube steak is considered a "lesser" cut of meat, it ends up saving you money. Just because it's considered a lesser cut of meat compared to the likes of a ribeye, doesn't mean you can't get some amazing flavor out of it!
#2. Seasoning Options: The possibilities on seasonings are endless, and every mom, grandma, aunt, uncle, Tom, Dick, and Harry, has their own variations. Salt and pepper are important, but there's more to flavor enhancing besides the obligatory spices. My spice mix for chicken fried steak is an even amount of the following: Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Paprika (smoked or regular), and Onion Powder. Be sure to rinse and pat dry your steaks before seasoning.
#3. Dredging: A foodie term also known as breading. Just like spices, folks have many different combinations of the dredging process. Some use eggs and flour, some even use breadcrumbs! Over the years I've tried various combinations until I found one that gave an excellent, crispy texture. I use milk and flour and I double bread the steaks. I know lots of people who season the flour with salt and pepper, but I don't find it necessary, I think it will compete too much with the meat. Another trick to make the most crispy breading. Let the steaks sit for about 5 minutes between breading and sit 5 minutes before cooking.
#4. Frying: Again, many ways to go about the cooking technique. Some keep it old school and pan fry, others deep fry, and some even attempt to bake them (trust me, that last one doesn't work). I keep it old school myself. If you have a cast iron frying pan, even better! Use just enough oil to thickly coat the bottom of the pan. I heat the oil on medium high heat. Speaking of oil, there are lots of options here as well. My preference is peanut oil or canola oil, they have higher smoke points and can stand the heat. Whatever you do, don't use olive oil for frying! Olive oil has a lower smoke point and you'll end up with burnt tasting steaks. I typically fry my steaks for about 3-4 minutes on each side. As always when frying foods, let the cooked steaks drain over some brown paper bags or paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
#5. Gravy: The feud on gravy will always be a passionate battle between the creamy, peppery variation and the richer, toastier persuasion. Lucky for us, they aren't very different to make! After you fry up your steaks, remove all but a few tablespoons of oil from the pan, and make sure to keep as many steak bits in the pan as possible - that's flavor! Keep the heat on low to medium low, and add a few tablespoons of flour (keep the oil to flour ratio equal). Stir the flour and oil together until just combined, let it cook for a few seconds. For cream gravy, add a couple of cups of milk and whisk together. For you brown gravy fans, let the oil and flour mixture cook a little longer, and use chicken or beef broth instead of milk. Salt and pepper to taste, of course.
The secrets to my mouthwatering chicken fried steak are now at your disposal. Give them a try, and you'll see how amazing the official dish of Texas really is.