Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chicken-Fried Steak and Gravy

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I recently received a few coupons to try Simply Potatoes, which are close-to-homemade, refrigerated potatoes. We decided to try the roasted garlic mashed potatoes first, because they're a family fave, especially with grilled steak.

But it's November in North Dakota, which typically means bitter cold, gusty winds, or both. Next option? Chicken-fried steak.

I absolutely adore chicken-fried steak, and I've recently converted the hubby, as well. But many restaurant versions are mediocre. The steak itself can be tough, the breading mealy or flavorless, and the gravy ... well, let's just say that flour, drippings, and milk aren't always enough. (Seasoning, people!)

I've had the same experience with the recipes I've tried, and believe me, I've tried plenty. But I keep persisting and trying to learn from my mistakes. And ... I may have finally found the perfect recipe! Upon tasting this, the hubby said, "Wow, this is fabulous, dear." And the little man had three helpings of dipping gravy.

I love this best served with garlic mashed potatoes (especially if they're a little lighter on the garlic), Texas toast, and corn.

Chicken-Fried Steak and Gravy
Serves 6

6 beef cube steaks, about 1 1/2-2 pounds total
Salt, pepper, and onion salt
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
2 cloves garlic, grated
Vegetable oil, for deep frying (I filled my pan about 1" deep)

1/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add oil to a large, heavy pan and heat to 325 degrees F.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle salt, pepper, and onion salt on one side of steaks.

3. Place 2 cups flour in a shallow dish. Add baking powder, baking soda, pepper, salt, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and stir to combine.

4. In a separate shallow bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, Tabasco, and garlic.

5. Dredge each steak in the flour, then in the buttermilk, and again in the flour. Place on a baking rack.

This lets any extra coating fall off the steaks, and also lets the coating sort of rest on all sides without the steaks getting mushy on the bottom. (This is key after frying, as well.)

6. Fry the steaks, a few at a time, about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

You don't need to worry about cooking the steaks all the way through, because they'll be finishing off in the oven. (I use this same technique for fried chicken, because I hate a burnt crust.)

7. Place steaks on a rack on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes, while you make the gravy.

8. Drain all but 1/4 cup of the oil from the pan, reserving the solid bits. I pour my oil through a mesh strainer, so I can toss the bits right back in the pan.

9. Return the pan to medium-low heat with the reserved oil. Whisk 1/4 cup flour into the oil. Stir in the milk and chicken bouillon cubes, raise the heat to medium, and bring the gravy to a simmer. Cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and pepper.

10. Spoon the gravy over the steaks to serve.

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