Let me start off by saying that before this post I have never eaten chicken fried steak. It’s not a big dish in Vancouver and I actually don’t see it on menus all to often, even while travelling. Apparently I haven’t been travelling to the right places, because chicken fried steak is A. Big. Deal. When I first came across the name, I was confused. Chicken? Steak? Was it chicken, steak or other?
Apparently, CFS as it’s affectionately shortened to, is, simply steak, breaded and fried. It gets it’s name from the fact that it’s supposed to be fried in oil that has been used to fry chicken. Steak that’s been fried in oil is just known as country fried steak. So, technically, what I made was a country fried steak, but I don’t think the CFS police are going to cite me or anything. If they were to take a visit to my kitchen, I’m sure they’d go on about how I didn’t tenderize.
See, chicken fried steak is all about the tenderizing. Pounding or forking makes a cheaper cut of meat more tender and delicious. But, at least I used the right cut of steak: chuck. Traditionally round steak, or chuck steak is reserved for coating and frying into deliciousness. And, bonus points, I made a simple little country gravy to go with.
I’ve heard from second hand experience that chicken fried steak is drowned in country gravy. Why you would fry something to delicious golden brown crispiness and then render it soggy with gravy is beyond me, but hey, who am I to question years of tradition. And to be honest, this steak was pretty damn delicious. I think I’m going to have to get myself to an authentic Southern eatery to taste the real thing first hand. In the meantime, I’ll be indulging in this homemade version.
Chicken Fried Steak Recipe via Alton Brown
- 1 steak of choice (most people choose round steak and then pound it, I used chuck and didn’t pound)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- oil for pan-frying (if you want to be authentic, use some oil that you have fried chicken in!)
- 2 tablespoons duck fat
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- salt and pepper
Place the flour into a shallow dish and mix with the salt and pepper. Place the egg in another shallow dish. Dredge the meat in the flour, then the egg, then the flower again.
In a large frying pan, heat up about 1/2 cm of oil over medium-high. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the steak and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside while making gravy.
In a sauce pot, melt the duck fat over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook while stirring until the flour is throughly incorporated. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk, then the broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, whisking occasionally until slightly thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Enjoy the steak topped with gravy and extra pepper if desired.