School starts tomorrow here. I asked the girls what they wanted for dinner tonight. One said “mashed potatoes and anything.” The other said “steak.” So I decided to make chicken fried steak, which fit with the “cheap” cooking theme since round steaks (aka London Broils) were on sale locally in a buy one get one free mode. I’ve never made chicken fried steak before. But what I think of as Southern “poor man’s food” has always been a taste treat for me somehow. I mostly followed the recipe in the book my sister gave me for my birthday, The Complete Meat Cookbook, which I think is pretty traditional. Some variations I saw in other recipes included using cracker crumbs rather than flour and various different herbs mixed in with the crumbs or flour, as well as stuff like Worcestershire sauce in with the egg (which I have done quite successfully with chicken cutlets before).
Basically, you slice a thin (1/2″) piece of round steak and pound it even thinner (to 1/4″). Then you dip it in flour, dip it in egg, and dip it in flour again (or cracker crumbs) and fry in oil, bacon grease, lard, or whatever fat you have lying around. I happened to spot lard at the grocery store, although I swear I was not even looking for it. But once I saw it, I decided to try it. I have been tempted before to try pie crusts with lard and I may now have an excuse. But tonight I just fried the steaks in it.
I’m not sure where to give the credit (the lard, the meat, the frying, the seasonings) but these chicken fried steaks were out of this world. So simple and so good! My eldest, who dislikes chicken at the moment, was not all fond of the name of the dish but once I assured here there was no chicken involved, that it was merely named after the style of cooking/frying, she dug into it and pronounced it wonderful.
If you haven’t pounded meat before, I find it easiest to place the meat between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper and use the flat side of a meat tenderizer or I suppose anything else heavy and flat. Just whack away at it until it’s as thin as you like.
Serve the chicken fried steaks with mashed potatoes and the gravy and some sort of vegetable. Tonight I did another squash and onion and tomato saute.
Chicken Fried Steak
- 4 pieces round steak, cut 1/2″ thin and pounded to 1/4″, about a pound total
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbs lard or other fat
If you want gravy:
- 2 Tbs flour
- 2 Tbs diced onion or 1 Tbs dried onion flakes
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk or milk and chicken broth or milk and water mix
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pound the meat and set aside. Heat the fat in a frying pan large enough to hold 1 or 2 steaks.
- Put the egg in a pie pan and mix it up. If you like, you can add a bit of milk or half and half or water. Put the flour and seasonings in another pie pan and stir together.
- When the fat is hot, use two forks to lift a pounded steak into the egg and coat it, then over to the flour and coat it on both sides, pressing down slightly to make it stick. Put the steak into the fat and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate and keep warm until all are done.
- To make gravy, drain off all but about 2 Tbs of the fat. Add the onion and cook a minute, then sprinkle the 2 Tbs flour over it and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or so.
- Slowly add the liquid, mixing each addition in so there are no lumps. You can use a whisk for this or one of those springy things my girls called the “bungee mixer” to get the lumps out. Stir constantly a few more minutes, until it cooks down to the thickness you like.
Postscript: I hadn’t realized that frying was the theme of Is My Blog Burning this month until I read some of my favorite cooking blogs this morning. At Our Table is the host so go check out the other honest entries, as opposed to my happenstance one!