Friday, August 22, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Recipe Friday: Chicken Fried Steak

This week: Chicken Fried Steak

There are a lot of pretenders out there, but this is the basic, tried & true Texas recipe. What started out in the germanic Hill Country as a modified snitzel -- then blended with the cooking style of the cattle trails -- morphed into a staple of Texas eating.

For the steak:
  • One sleeve of saltine crackers (about 38-40)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole or butter milk
  • 4 tenderized round steaks (about 1/2 pound each and no more than 1/4 inch thick)
  • 3 cups shortening (melted)
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For the gravy:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 1/2 cups milk (regular)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease (fry up 3 slices of bacon and use the drippings)

Preheat oven to 225° F.

To prepare the steaks --

Grind all but 4 saltines to breadcrumb consistency. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, paprika, onion powder and baking powder. Crumble remaining saltines by hand and mix in. Set aside.

Whisk eggs and milk in another large bowl; set aside.

In a cast iron or other large skillet, melt shortening and add peanut oil. Heat over high heat.

Meanwhile, lightly sprinkle salt & pepper over steaks. Dredge steaks in cracker mixture then dip in the milk mixture. Dredge in cracker mix again -- get an even coating so the steaks are dry on the outside.

Melt the butter in the heated oil. Gently slide a steak into the oil and fry until golden brown. With tongs, turn and fry until crispy and golden brown -- about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining steaks -- and keep them warm in the oven while you prepare the gravy.

To make the gravy --

Carefully drain the hot oil from your skillet -- but reserve the cooked bits and drippings. Return the pan to the burner and add butter. When the butter foams, add flour 1 tablespoon at at time and whisk continuously until roux is deep golden. Slowly add the milk, bacon drippings and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and stirring continously to prevent lumps. When gravy is desired consistency, get those steaks out of the oven and serve!

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