November 21, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak and Crisp-Fried Potatoes

When planning my cooking for this weekend, I decided to make something different for Saturday's breakfast, so with that in mind I picked up some cube steaks and made sure I was stocked up on onions and potatoes, because I was going to try my hand at Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy and Fried Potatoes.

In both cases I started out with a variety of recipes from Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Country, and a couple of my more basic cookbooks, and in both cases I ended up taking a little bit from one source, combining it with a bit from another and tossing in a few of my own touches.  

The results as I cooked them were pretty good overall, though I was more pleased with them than Juli was.   She thought the amounts of onion  used were a bit excessive, especially given that both dishes had onions, and she would have preferred to have a more simple Cream Gravy and skip the onions entirely.   The recipes below differ a bit from what I cooked on Saturday morning, reflecting adjustments based on the obtained results.

I should note also that if one isn't too concerned about cholesterol, my Sausage Gravy Recipe would also work fine with the Chicken Fried Steak.  As often as not, that's probably what you'd get if you ordered it in a restaurant, as places that have Chicken Fried Steak on the menu usually also serve Biscuits and Gravy, and they end up using the same gravy for both dishes.

A bit over-cooked, but still tasty.

Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy

yield = 4 servings

2        cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2        teaspoons salt,
1        teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4     teaspoon cayenne pepper
1        cup buttermilk
1        large egg
1        teaspoon baking powder
1/2     teaspoon baking soda
4        cube steaks, about 5 ounces each, pounded thin
1 1/2  cups peanut oil

Cream Gravy
1        tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2     small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/8     teaspoon dried thyme
2        teaspoons minced garlic
1/2     cup chicken broth
2        cups whole milk
1/2     teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4     teaspoon salt
1        pinch cayenne pepper

Preparing the Steak
Add the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne to a large, shallow dish and whisk to combine.  In another large, shallow dish, beat the egg, baking powder and baking soda together, then stir in the buttermilk.

Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste.  Place one steak in the bowl with the flour mixture, press it into the flour, turn the steak over and press the other side into the flour.  Shake off excess flour, then use tongs to dip the steak into the egg mixture, turning it to coat both sides.  Allow the excess egg mixture to drop off, then return the steak to the flour mixture, again coating both sides and shaking off any excess before placing the steak onto the wire rack.  Repeat the procedure with the other steaks.  Reserve three tablespoons of the flour mixture for use in the gravy.

Line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels.  Heat the oil in a conventional or electric skillet until heated to 375 degrees.   Prepare a second wire rack atop a foil-lined baking sheet, place the sheet into the oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees. 

Place as many steaks as can comfortably fit into the skillet and fry, turning once, until deep, golden brown on both sides (5-6 minutes).  Transfer the steaks to the plate or baking sheet lined with the paper towels, then transfer the steaks to the wire rack in the oven to keep them warm.  Pour the oil through a fine-mesh strainer.  Discard the oil, but save any browned bits caught in the strainer.

Preparing the Cream Gravy
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and thyme and cook untilt he onion has softened and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook one minute, then add two tablespoons of the reserved flour mixture to the pan and stir until the flour is combined with the onion and garlic and any large clumps are dissoled.  Whisk in the chicken broth, using the whisk to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, cayenne and browned bits reserved from the cooking oil, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Cook until thickened, sprinkling in a bit at a time of the reserved flour mixture if necessary. 

Transfer the steaks to a serving platter and the gravy to a gravy boat or measuring cup.  Pour or spoon a generous amount of gravy over individually-served steaks. 

If you would prefer, omit the onions.  Simply melt the butter, add two tablespoons of the reserved flour mixture to make a roux, and continue as written above.

Crisp-Fried Potatoes

yield = 4 servings

1 1/2    pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4          tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1          small onion, minced
1/2       teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2       teaspoon garlic powder
1/2       teaspoon salt

Put the potatoes in a large, microwave-safe bowl, top with 1 tablespoon of butter and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for about 6 minutes, shaking the bowl (without removing the plastic) to stir up the potatoes halfway through cooking.

While the potatoes are in the microvave, heat one tablespoon of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden-brown (approx. 8 minutes).  Transfer the onion to a small bowl.

Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the skillet over medium heat.  Add the potatoes to the melted butter and cook the potatoes without stirring for about 5 minutes or until browned on one side.  Turn the potatoes and continue to cook, stirring them occasionally, until they are well-browned and crisp on most sides (about 15 minutes) then stir in the onion, pepper, garlic powder and salt.  Serve.

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