March 24, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy

I've written before about my attempts to make a good chicken fried steak.  My previous attempts haven't been dreadful, but they haven't been fully satisfying, either.   Thankfully, I think I've finally found a chicken fried steak recipe we can be satisfied with.

I started out with a really good chicken fried steak recipe featured recently at one of our favorite blogs, One Perfect Bite.  It was a pretty basic recipe, but I felt satisfied with using it as a place to start, since Mary's recipes turn out pretty reliably good.   At the same time, I saw some things I knew I'd want to do differently, mostly regarding seasoning.   I figured I'd follow Mary's cooking instructions, but insert some additional seasonings of my own.  I started by just adding a bit of seasoning to the breading, but as Juli and I worked on the gravy, we ended up bolstering that with a fair bit of extra seasoning, too. 

We were happy with how this turned out.   The steaks were cooked just right, the breading was crisp and tasty and the gravy was just plain excellent.

After making these, I checked out some of the links on Mary's blog (one of the neat features of her blog is that her entries include links to other bloggers' versions of the same recipe).  I did see one idea on one of those blogs that I will probably try out next time I make chicken fried steak.  Cooking by the Seat of My Pants suggests soaking the steak pieces in buttermilk for at least four hours (preferably overnight) to tenderize the meat, and to give the steaks a bit of tangy buttermilk flavor.   That sounds pretty good to me, so I'll probably give that a shot at some point and report back on how it went. 

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy

yield = 4 servings

2         pounds beef bottom round roast, trimmed of excess fat
           salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2   cups all-purpose flour
3/4      teaspoon garlic powder
1/8      teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8      teaspoon baking powder
3         eggs, beaten
1/4      cup vegetable oil
2         cups chicken broth
1/2      cup whole milk
1/2      teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4      teaspoon onion powder
1/4      teaspoon paprika
1/2      teaspoon dried sage

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Cut beef with the grain into half-inch thick slices.  Season each piece on both sides with salt and pepper.   Place flour, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, cayenne pepper and baking powder into a low, flat bowl or pie plate and mix thoroughly.  Place eggs into another low, flat dish.

Dredge meat slices through the flour mixture on both sides.  Thoroughly tenderize and flatten the meat slices until each is 1/4 inch thick.   Once tenderized and flattened, dredge meat again in flour mixture, then in the eggs and finally in the flour again.  Place meat on a rack and allow it to sit 10-15 minutes before cooking.

Pour enough vegetable oil (approximately 1/4 cup) into a large skillet to cover the bottom of the skillet.  Heat at medium high until shimmering, then add meat in batches, being careful to not overcrowd the pan.  Cook each piece of meat on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side.  Transfer steaks to a wire rack set on a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.  Repeat until all the steaks are cooked.

Add oil to skillet to total of 1 tablespoon.   Add 3 tablespoons of the flour mixture left over from dredging.  Add chicken broth and whisk until the gravy boils and starts to thicken. 

Add milk, thyme, remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and sage and whisk until the gravy is thick.  Add more salt and pepper to season to taste.  Serve the gravy over the steaks. 

I served the Chicken Fried Steak with Jo Jo Potatoes, made with a recipe from the current issue of Cook's Country, and carrots.    Jo Jo Potatoes are potato wedges baked with a coating of panko crumbs and seasoning.   Apparently they're popular in the east coast (though not the northeast). 

I thought the recipe looked and sounded pretty good, but the result was not so great.   In fact, the potatoes weren't very good at all.   The flavors of the coating didn't sink into the potatoes at all, and the coating itself was dry and crumbly.   I won't be making those again, and can't really recommend the recipe.   In fact, it was possibly the worst thing I've ever made from a Cook's Illustrated or Cook's Country recipe.  Thankfully the Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy was plenty filling on its own, and so good that even the not-good potatoes could spoil the meal. 

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