One of my favorite meals growing up was Mom’s Chicken Fried Steak. She takes a lot of pride in cooking for the family and always makes a feast for dinner. I can almost hear the steaks sizzling in the pan and the smell of garlic and fried beef. If those sounds and smells met us at the door when we got home, we knew a fantastic meal was coming soon. Mom would serve this country meal with Homestyle Mashed Potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh green salad and homemade yeast rolls.
There are a few secrets to making chicken fried steak well, first is tenderizing the meat. If you’re using round steak, you’ll want to hammer it out with a meat tenderizer, which can be a little messy, but makes the steak very tender. Otherwise, you can skip this step if you buy pre-tenderized cube steaks.
Next, you’ll need to season the meat very well on both sides. I always keep my “kitchen salt” on hand and use it as my main season salt with most all of my dishes. You can find my Kitchen Salt recipe here.
In addition to seasoning the meat, it’s important to also season the flour so that you have layers of good flavor.
Setting up your breading station ahead of time while keep things moving smoothly. Start by dipping the seasoned meat into the flour, then into the egg wash, then back into the flour to make a good breading that will create a crispy crust during frying.
Another important tip is to place the breaded meat onto a sheet pan, cover and place back in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before frying. This will firmly adhere the breading onto the meat and help keep it from falling of when frying.
You want to use a heavy skillet, like an iron skillet for even frying. I like to fry in shortening or lard. It makes a crispier crust and holds up better to hot heat.
Cook just until golden brown on each side. Cooking over medium-high heat, along with a heavy bottomed skillet will help prevent hot spots or darker, sometimes burned spots on the steak.
Another very important tip is to place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and place the pan-fried steaks onto the rack before going into the oven. This will keep the bottoms from getting soggy while cooking the remaining steaks, and while finishing them off in the oven.
Once you’re finished frying everything, you’ll have a lot of browned bits left in the pan. Don’t get rid of this! This stuff is what helps make the cream gravy so great. Pour off all but 4 tablespoons of the grease and drippings.
Making gravy is really easy, so don’t be too intimidated by it. Add the flour to the grease and stir over medium-high heat.
Cook the flour mixture, stirring constantly for about 1 minute or until light golden brown. The mixture may seem crumbly, but it will smooth out as you whisk in the milk and cream.
Once the gravy comes together and begins to simmer, continue whisking and cooking for about 3 minutes and the gravy will tighten up and thicken. Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper, to taste and keep warm until ready to serve.
I hope you enjoy!
For an extra special Southern meal, try serving with these fantastic sides: Homestyle Mashed Potatoes, Cream Corn, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Crisp Bacon!