Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak with White Pepper Gravy - The Boss!

Often I wonder if any of you have the same trouble I do when planning your weekly menu while trying to get your grocery list together.  Honestly, I have slammed into a brick wall.  Nothing looks good, nothing sounds good; I don't know what I want.  Anyone who really knows me will tell you that the worst thing you can do is give me time to think.  And think I did boys and girls!

Wandering aimlessly down the frozen food aisle in the grocery store, looking at frozen TV dinners, which by the way, ain't what they used to be, it hit me.  Besides fried chicken and salisbury steak, what kind of TV dinners were popular in those three-way divided,  foil trays of my childhood?  Chicken Fried Steak came to mind.

Chicken Fried Steak apparently is more of a southern thang, but side-stepped New Orleans.  Since I don't remember my mother ever cooking Chicken Fried Steak, and I know I've never ordered it in a restaurant, I wasn't sure what Chicken Fried Steak was all about; besides you know how I am about white gravies (I am coming around to a degree). After researching different Chicken Fried Steak recipes from the really basic to the over the top (marinating sirloin and making a white wine sauce), I compiled several ingredients and methods and came up with this very budget friendly, rockin' the house recipe.  Oh yeah baby, this will show Chicken Fried Steak who's boss!

Gather this stuff together for the Chicken Fried Steak:

1 to 1-1/4 lbs. lean round steak, either pre-cut or cut into equal portions
1 cup buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1-1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne (really, don't be afraid, use this much, trust me
Canola oil
For the White Pepper Gravy:

1/2 pound bacon, cut into short strips
2 well-rounded tablespoons AP flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 to 3 Fresh thyme sprigs (for show, optional)

Blend the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne and about 1 to 2 teaspoons of  kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon  of freshly ground black pepper in a bowl.  Once blended, divide this between to pie dish or large shallow bowls.

Place the buttermilk in a pie dish or large, shallow bowl, season generously with salt and pepper.

Pour canola oil into a cast iron skillet, right under halfway.  It's really important to use a cast iron skillet for this.  Heat the skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees F.  Do not exceed the medium setting on your stove. This will heat the oil slow and steady and alleviate the big flare up when you place the coated meat into the hot oil.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place the top rack in the middle of the oven.

Pour the 1-1/2 cup of milk and the half cup of heavy cream in a small sauce pan.  Heat over low heat and cover, leaving the lid askew on the pot so the liquid warms, not boils.

Dredge no more than 2 pieces at a time through the first flour mixture and shake off any excess.

Then dip the steaks in the buttermilk mixture and gently shake off or allow excess to drip off.

Finally, dredge the meat through the second flour mixture and place into the heated oil.

Add the steak, 2 pieces at a time and cook until golden brown on both sides.  More than two steaks at a time will lower the oil temperature and cause the coating to peel off in sheets.  Remember to keep the oil temperature steady hot and don't move the meat around for about 3 minutes.

While the steaks are frying, start cutting up the bacon into this strips, about 1-inch long.

Place the cooked steaks momentarily on a paper towel line plate.  Quickly season the steaks with salt and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.  Then, using a spatula or tongs, carefully move the steaks to a rack on a  baking sheet.  Once all of the steaks are cooked, place the baking sheet in the preheated oven to to keep warm while preparing the gravy.

Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the oil from the skillet, leaving the crunchy pieces from the coating then add the bacon and cook until golden brown.

 Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.

Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of fat and return the skillet to the burner at medium heat. Whisk the flour into the pan and let cook for approximately 1 minute until the mixture turns just a very slight brown.

Slowly whisk in the warm milk and cream and continue to heat, whisking frequently.  The sauce will thicken very quickly.  If the gravy seems too thick, feel free to whisk in additional milk to achieve the desired consistency.

Stir in the additional 2 tablespoons of heavy cream thyme and season with salt and lots and lots of  freshly ground black pepper.

Serve with ladled gravy and garnish with the reserved bacon and some chopped chives for color.  The chives are completely optional. Add a couple of thyme sprigs for a little panache.

I bet the wagon train has never seen it this good.


Big Dude said...

Damn Katherine, I wish you wouldn't hurt me like this - I absolutely love this dish. Great shots of it as well.

Chris said...

ha ha ha I knew Larry was going to like this one.

Excellent meal, Katherine. I usually do sausage gravy but the bacon was a great idea. I'll try it.

The Japanese Redneck said...

Man on man, give me a plate!

Lynn said...

I love chicken fried steak! It is not something I grew up eating in Mississippi though. My first apartment in New Orleans was at 7th and Magazine (behind the Salvation Army men's bunkhouse). A restaurant on that corner, Joey K's, still serves a mean chicken fried steak. My kids would think they'd died and gone to heaven if I made it!