A Southern Favorite
What evil genius came up with the idea for chicken-fried steak? Just when I'm trying to be good, eating my greens, avoiding sweets, the notion to make chicken-fried steak takes hold in my brain and doesn't let go until the deed is done. Dear brain, what are you doing?
If you are unfamiliar with the dish, chicken-fried steak is a Southern favorite. Tenderized beef cutlets are dipped in egg and flour and fried, much like fried chicken, but with steak.
Video! How to Make Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken Fried Steak
What Cut to Use to Make Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken fried steak is made most often with cube steak, or steak that has already been tenderized, or a cheap cut like round steak. It was originally created to make a cheap cut of meat taste better. No matter which cut you use, you have to pound it thin with a meat mallet.
Although most chicken fried steaks are made with beef, you can substitute with a thin cut of pork.
Tips for Making the Best Chicken Fried Steak
- Pound the steak thin. We use a meat hammer for this, but you could use a rubber mallet, a rolling pin, or even an empty wine bottle. A thin steak will cook quicker and be less chewy
- Press the flour into the meat. We dredge the steak cutlets in flour twice, first before, then after an egg wash. The first time you dredge the steaks into the flour, use the heel of your hand to really press it in. That way, the coating will adhere better.
- Spoon hot oil over the steaks in the pan. You don't need to deep fry the chicken-fried steaks. You can easily shallow fry them in less oil. Help firm up the coating on top by spooning hot oil over the top before flipping the steaks.
- Use a warming oven. After you fry the steaks, keep them warm in a 200°F oven while you make the gravy.
Use the Drippings in the Pan to Make Gravy
Isn't it all about the gravy? Chicken fried steak is usually served with a creamy country gravy, made with some of the drippings from the pan. After you cook the steaks and while you are keeping them warm, remove all but a few tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add an equal amount of flour and cook for several minutes, until it turns a warm brown color. Then stream in milk and cream to finish the gravy.
Of course, as is the case with almost any regional dish, variations abound. If you make chicken fried steak at home, what is your favorite way to prepare it? Please tell us about it in the comments.
Simple Side Dishes for Chicken Fried Steak
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Southern Cornbread
- Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
- Southern Style Collard Greens
- Black Eyed Peas Salad
Chicken Fried Steak
1 pound pre-tenderized cube steaks, or round steaks (4 steaks)
Salt, for seasoning the meat
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt, for breading
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil, or other fat for frying
For the gravy:
3 tablespoons pan drippings
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 cups milk (a little more or less, depending on your preference)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pound the steaks evenly:
If you are using round steak instead of pre-tenderized cube steak, you will need to pound the steaks thin or they will be way too chewy. (Already tenderized cube steaks can also use more attention from the meat mallet to be made thinner.)
Place each steak between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, rubber mallet, rolling pin, or empty wine bottle, pound the steak until it is very thin, less than 1/4 inch.
As you pound the steak, turn it over often and spread out the plastic wrap, which tends to wrinkle as you work.
Repeat with all the steaks.
Salt the meat:
Sprinkle a little salt over the meat.
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Put a wire rack over a baking sheet and place in the oven. You'll use the oven to keep the finished steaks warm and crisp while you cook the gravy.
Bread the steaks:
Prepare two wide, shallow dishes (such as a Pyrex casserole dish). In the first one, whisk together the eggs and milk. In the second, whisk together the flour, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne.
Working one at a time, dredge a steak in the flour. Using the heel of your hand, press the flour into both sides of the steak.
Lift the steak, shake off the excess flour, and dip the steak into the egg wash, coating it on both sides.
Lift the steak out of the egg wash, shake off the excess egg wash, and then dredge the steak in the flour a second time. Again, press the flour into the steak on both sides.
Set aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining steaks.
Fry the steaks:
Pour enough oil in a large frying pan to cover the bottom by 1/4 inch. Heat the oil to 350°F or until it sizzles when you drop a little flour into it. If the oil doesn't sizzle, it isn't ready; if it burns, the oil is too hot, reduce the heat.
Working one at a time, lay a coated steak into the hot oil. Use a metal spoon to spoon some of the oil over the steak. This sets the coating.
Fry until you see the edges of the steak turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn the steak over in the pan, and fry for 2 more minutes.
Once both sides of the steak are golden brown, tip the steak up with a metal spatula to drain the excess oil. Remove it from the pan and place if on the wire rack in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining steaks and leave them in the oven while you make the gravy.
Make a roux for the gravy:
Turn off the heat under the pan. Pour out all but about 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour and turn the heat on to medium.
Cook until it's the color of milk chocolate, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Finish the gravy:
When the flour-fat mixture is smooth and a lovely milk chocolate color, slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly. Note that the mixture will seize up initially, and will loosen as you whisk in more liquid.
Add milk to your desired thickness for gravy. If the gravy is too thick for you, add more milk. If it's too thin, let it cook longer.
Season with salt and lots of black pepper, to taste.
Serve chicken fried steak with the gravy and a side of mashed potatoes or your choice of side.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 49g||63%|
|Saturated Fat 14g||70%|
|Total Carbohydrate 61g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||8%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|