Texas-style Chicken Fried Steak With Cream Gravy
- Servings: 4 --- (2 if you are hungry)
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 to 35 minutes
|4||Tenderized Beef Cutlets|
|or 1 Round Steak, with fat removed, that you've tenderized yourself with a toothed meat mallet.|
|Lard or Melted Crisco®|
|¼ tsp||Ground Black Pepper|
|¼ tsp||White Pepper|
1. Beat together the egg and milk and set aside. Mix together the salt, black pepper, paprika and white pepper and sprinkle on both sides of beef cutlets.
2. Dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess. Then dip each cutlet in the egg/milk mixture, then back in the flour. (You're going to get your hands messy here, so take your rings off.) Set cutlets aside on a piece of waxed paper. Better still, use a cooling rack to let cutlets dry a little. (coating will stick better)
3. Heat the grease in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Oil should be about a half-inch deep in the pan. Check the temperature with a drop of water; if it pops and spits back at you, it's ready.
4. With a long-handled fork, carefully place each cutlet into the hot oil. Protect yourself (and your kitchen) from the popping grease that results. Fry cutlets on both sides, turning once, until golden brown. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 4 or 5 minutes until cutlets are done through. Drain cutlets on paper towels.
After the cutlets are removed from the pan, pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of oil, keeping as many as possible of the browned bits in the pan. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons flour (use the left-over flour from the chicken fried steak recipe) in the hot oil. Stir with a whisk, quickly, to brown the flour.
Gradually stir in 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup water, mixed together, stirring constantly with the whisk or a wooden spoon and mashing out any lumps. Lower heat, and gravy will begin to thicken. Continue cooking and stirring a few minutes until gravy reaches desired thickness. Check seasonings and add more salt and pepper according to your taste.
NOTE TO CREAM GRAVY NOVICES: Gravy-making is an inexact science. Cream gravy is supposed to be thick, but if you think it's too thick, add more liquid until you're satisfied with it.
CFS, AS WE CALL IT: is not the sole property of Texas. It is also the Official State Dish of Oklahoma.
Many of the recipes for CFS call for pounding flour into the steak with a tenderizing hammer. It is pretty much a personal thing as to whether you pound your steak or not. Experience is the teacher here.
In any case, the flour you use should be seasoned and you want to use plain white or unbleached flour. Whole-wheat flour is nada on CFS. Years ago I was introduced to CFS seasoned with Lawry's Seasoned Salt. It is still my favorite. You can use what you think would be good -- salt, pepper, onion powder, a little cayenne, whatever. You season the meat BEFORE you flour it and then put some MORE seasoning in your flour. About a Tablespoon full of seasoning to a cup of flour would be just right.
You will occasionally find CFS that has been coated with breadcrumbs. I'm sorry, but that is not CFS; it's breaded steak.
The grease you fry your CFS in is a personal choice. To be Texas authentic, you would fry in hog lard. Hog lard has got such a bad rap as of late that you seldom see it outside the Mexican food section of the super market. Eating something fried in hog lard once a month will not hurt you one bit. The second choice of grease would be a solid shortening such as Crisco. You can use oil, but use a quality oil. Pick a good name brand of corn oil.
Whatever you use for frying, you want at least one-half an inch of it in your skillet. A big, old cast iron skillet works best. The oil should be 350-360°F when you start. That is what makes the non-greasy, crisp coating. Not having the oil hot enough results in a grease soaked mess.
CFS is seldom over one-half inch thick, so the rule of thumb is fry it until it is brown enough on one side, then turn it over and fry the other side. Again, experience.
WHAT GOES WITH YOUR CFS? Tradition says creamed potatoes and cream gravy. It is permissible to have French fries, but you must bring a note from your cardiologist.
CREAMED POTATOES, TEXAS STYLE:
One potato per serving, medium size. Peel the spud and cut it into chunks. Put in cool water in a pot that will allow about an inch of water over the top of the spuds. Add a small amount of salt, say half a teaspoon to start. Cook the potatoes at a rapid boil until they are very tender when checked with a fork. Drain, apply potato masher after adding about two tablespoons of real butter per serving. Mash everything up real good. Give a good sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper. Add a small amount of whole milk or cream and stir well. Add more moo juice as needed to get the consistency you desire. Check and see if more salt is needed. Don't get them runny. You need them solid enough to form a little cup to put some of your gravy in.
Too often CFS shows up on the restaurant table with white sauce on it. It is a good bet that their white sauce came in powder form, and they just add water and heat. NOT good eats! Real gravy will always have specks of brown and black in it.
CREAM GRAVY, TEXAS STYLE:
This is for a normal-size amount of cream gravy. If you need more or less just keep the ratio of ingredients, and everything will work just fine.
Start by pouring off the excess grease in the skillet after the frying has been done and, leaving 2 Tablespoons of the pan drippings in the skillet (leave the "crusties" in the skillet). Stir in 2 Tablespoons of white flour. Cook, stirring constantly over medium-high heat until the flour browns slightly. Add a cup of whole milk, cream or evaporated milk. Stir constantly until the mix begins to bubble and thicken. Add a lot of fresh ground black pepper. Taste for salt and add as needed. If the mix starts getting too thick, add more liquid. If you are using the evaporated milk, you can add water. Turn the heat down to low and simmer a couple of minutes, stirring as needed to keep it from sticking and scorching.
No one mentions Mexican-style chicken fried steak. I ran across this wonder at a little diner in San Antonio. It was the standard, crusty CFS except, instead of cream gravy it came with chili con queso on it. It was wonderful.
Each steak goes on a large platter. The creamed potatoes are placed at its side and a small depression formed in them with your spoon. The gravy goes on top of the steak and fills the little potato gravy lake. Don't completely cover the steak with gravy, It looks best with a strip of gravy about one-third the width of the steak down the middle.
I always eat fried okra with my CFS, but a serving of green beans is traditional. There should be a small green salad on the side. The simplest and best salad is just lettuce, a bit of onion and tomato. Don't make it too fancy.
This recipe calls for cube steaks, but, a good round steak that you have tenderized yourself can be even better.
Fancy is not Texas.
TEXAS STYLE CFS IS NOT FANCY, IT IS GOOD EATS