Despite all the meat I've eaten this week (pork, beef shanks, and lamb), I still found myself with a hankerin' for some meat. Not just any meat though, I'm talking about a deep fried slab of chicken fried steak smothered in a rich creamy gravy.
Yep, that's right... chicken fried steak is a piece of beef that's been fried like chicken then covered with a gravy made from the fry fat. If you're from the South, this dish needs no introduction, but for all my Yankee and foreign readers, this is a Southern staple that's about as tasty as it is bad for you.
It's basically a cheap cut of beef (such as a bottom round or cube steak) that you beat the living daylights out of. Then it's dredge in buttermilk, egg, and seasoned flour before being deep fried until golden and crisp on both sides. The chicken fried steak alone would make for a cardiologists nightmare, but then it's drown in a cream based gravy. I've tried to reduce the heart attack quotient a little by shallow frying in vegetable oil (instead of lard) and by making the gravy with milk instead of cream, but I won't lie to you, there's not much you can do to make this "healthy" without stealing from the soul of this dish.
I love having this with mashed potatoes (for which I use skin-on yukon golds) and if I'm feeling ambitious I'll make a side of cheesy fried green tomatoes to go with it. If you want to go for the full coronary, fry up a couple eggs sunny side up and pile them on top. All of this must then be liberally covered in the heavenly gravy.
For flour mixture
For egg wash
- Pound out the steaks using a mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan such as a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Then using a needle style tenderizer jab at the meat until it's about 1/4" thick. If you're steaks are oblong you may want to cut them in half to make them easier to handle. Salt and pepper both sides then rub about a tablespoon of yogurt onto each side of the steak. Set them on a wire rack to air dry for about 15-20 minutes.
- In one shallow bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the flour mixture. In another shallow bowl whisk together the egg and milk. Drop a steak in the flour and thoroughly coat with flour. Then dip it in the egg, shake off the excess then coat it with flour again. Place the steak back on the rack and repeat with the other pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and put a wire rack over a baking sheet in the oven.
- Add about 1/4" of oil to a heavy bottomed frying pan and place over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and hits 375 degrees F. When the oil is hot, add a steak (or 2 if they fit) and do not disturb until you see the edges become golden brown. Carefully flip and let the other side brown. When they're golden brown on both sides, transfer them to the wire rack in the oven to keep them warm then fry the rest of the steaks.
- When the steaks are done, Use paper towels to sop up all but 2 tablespoons of oil leaving the browned bits in the pan. Add the shallots and saute until they are fragrant. Add 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture you used to dredge the steaks in and stir to absorb the grease.
- Turn down the heat and whisk in the chicken stock and milk continuing to whisk until there are no lumps left. Turn up the heat then add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste. It will thicken as it comes to a boil.
- To serve, just plate the fried steaks and cover with gravy. I like to serve this with mashed yukon gold potatoes with the gravy all over everything.