Bev bought some cubed steak early in the week for chicken fried steak and for a variety of reasons we didn’t get around to cooking it until Friday. This is one of my all time favorite meals. Between my wife (ex) being in the hospital having kids and them being somewhat sickly and ending up in the hospital, it seems I spent a fair amount of time there in those days. Naturally I ended up being there at mealtime on occasion, so I ate in their cafeteria, and discovered they had a very good chicken fried steak sandwich. I liked it so well that I would go there for lunch when I didn’t have someone to visit in the hospital. I think that’s when my love affair with the dish began and I'd never heard of it before then.
I’m not sure I’d ever experienced the full monte until several years later when we were visiting daughter Kathy in San Antonio. We made several site seeing trips around Texas hill country north of S.A. and during one of them we decided to eat at the Hill Country Cupboard in Johnson City – home of President Johnson. If you click on the link and check out their sign, it says “Worlds Best Chicken Fried Steak.” So I ordered the house special – large chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and cream gravy. Large was a mistake as I ended up with a platter, not plate, full of food and the worst part - it was so good I ate it all. I’d have a hard time refuting their “worlds best” claim, but Bev had eaten the dish a few nights before in Nacogdoches and said she preferred it – I’d say they were both outstanding and I was hooked. We also ate our share of schnitzel while visiting our kids in Europe and were even further hooked.
We’ve made it several times and it’s always good but doesn’t seem quite as good as theirs – maybe I just have fond memories. Our menu was chicken fried steak, smashed red skinned potatoes, peppered cream gravy, and peas – Bev likes them with mashed potatoes. Here are the recipes we used for the steak and gravy.
TEXAS STYLE CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
SPICES FROM THREADGILL’S
1/2 cup Kosher salt
4 tbsp Black pepper
2 tbsp White pepper
1 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 tbsp Granulated onion
1 1/2 tsp Ground cumin
4 tbsp Granulated garlic
2 tbsp Paprika
Mix ingredients well. Store in a glass jar or plastic container. Keep tightly sealed. Shake before each use to prevent settling.
COOKING FROM VIRGINIA’S IN AUSTIN, TX
Cubed top round steak
· Lightly season meat on both sides
· Pound steak to ¼” thick.
· Beat eggs and place in pie pan
· Add flour to second pie pan
· Dredge meat in flour, then eggs, then flour again and put on rack to dry a little
· Add ¼” oil to skillet and heat on medium heat.
· Add meat to skillet and cook until golden brown, flip and repeat for second side
· Put in 200* over to keep warm while remainder of meat is cooked
CREAM GRAVY FROM HOMESICK TEXAN
Two tablespoons of pan drippings, bacon grease or vegetable oil
Two tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper (original was 1 tsp)
Salt to taste.
1. Combine fat with flour in a hot skillet, continuously stirring, cook on medium for a couple of minutes until a dark roux is formed.
2. Add milk slowly to skillet, and mix with roux using either a whisk or wooden spoon (be sure and press out any lumps).
3. Turn heat to low and continue stirring until mixture is thickened, a couple more minutes.
4. Add pepper and salt to taste.
5. If gravy is too thick for your taste, you can thin it by adding either more milk or water a tablespoon at a time.
6. Goes great with mashed potatoes, fried chicken, biscuits, chicken fried steak, grits, vegetables, rice or anything else you can imagine.
We have always pan fried the steak and can never get it to the nice golden brown were looking for and have it either too dark or too light, so we decided to deep fry it tonight, where I could have good control of the oil temperature. We used cubed steak, but I pounded it a little more to get a uniform thickness. I gave the meat a light sprinkle of the spices (it has lots of salt) about an hour before cooking then followed the recipe procedure for breading. Bev likes it leftover for breakfast so we cooked a few extra pieces. I cooked the first two at 350*, the next two at 360* and the ones we ate at 365*, which I think produced the best results.
Since we had no oil with pan drippings, I substituted butter with a little beef base to make the gravy and it turned out great.
Since everything is basic here, I didn’t take any pics of the process, but here’s a pic of the first four pieces.
Since I decided to pretend I was in Texas, here's a shot of my platter before and after gravy - I thought the meal was excellent and look forward to the next time- we only have it a couple of times a year. The coating was not as dark as it looks in the pic.
More pics of the leftovers to follow.
Have a great day.