Southern Chicken Fried Steak
Southerners just love their Chicken Fried Steak! You’ll find this fried cubed-steak beauty on just about every restaurant south of the Mason-Dixon line! Granted, this fried plate of goodness is not the healthiest choice, but once in a while, it’s okay to treat yourself to some Southern Chicken Fried Steak.
The history of Chicken Fried Steak is confusing, to say the least. No one really knows how it came about, but there is speculation it was derived from the influx of Germans into Texas way back when.
The main point is that no one cares where it came from or how it got to be such a mainstay on Southern restaurant menus. The fried steak is basically a textured, ground, then flattened piece of round steak that is coated in batter and fried, just like you’d fry chicken.
The most important fact is that you do not have to go “out” to have a delicious Chicken Fried Steak…you can have it at home in less than 30 minutes!
What Type of Oil Is Best for Frying Chicken Fried Steak?
Back in the day, our Great Grandmothers used lard, which is a high-cholesterol fat derived from pork; then, our Grandmother’s discovered “shortening”, also known as Crisco™. Crisco really does fry foods the best, but now we know it’s loaded with those bad trans fats and it’s not good for us so, we use vegetable or canola oil. Both of these oils are high-heat tolerant, as opposed to olive oil, which will burn easily at higher temperatures.
Other high-heat tolerant oils are walnut, grapeseed and peanut oil. These oils are a bit more expensive than vegetable or canola oil, but work just as well.
What Type of Meat Should I Buy ?
Tenderized cube steak is generally used for Chicken Fried Steak. The cube steak is usually round steak, but in some instances, chefs will use ground rib-eye or sirloin. It is called “cube” steak because of the cube-shaped indentions in the meat from the grinder and mallet.
What Temperature Should I Heat the Oil for Chicken Fried Steak?
The oil should be at 350ºF; however, commercial fryers are safer to use at 350ºF than home stove-tops, so heating the oil to the mid 300ºF should suffice. If you find 350ºF too hot, you can reduce the heat to around 312ºF. The steak will still fry, but it will take a bit longer.
What Temperature Should the Center of the Steak Reach?
Chicken fried steak should have a center, internal temperature of at least 160ºF. This is to ensure no bacteria are present. Once you’ve cooked the steak about two minutes on each side, you may want to reduce the heat a bit to allow the center of the steak to cook to the desired temperature, while not overcooking the batter.
If you cut the steak into thin strips (aka Chicken Fried Steak Fingers), the interior temperature should reach 160ºF within 4-6 minutes, depending upon the temperature of the oil.
How Do I Make Cream Gravy to go with Chicken Fried Steak?
Cream gravy is a must for this Southern comfort food! Use the oil from the fried steaks as a base to cream gravy.
- Set cooked Chicken Fried Steaks (or Fingers) aside in the oven at about 200ºF
- Pour the hot oil from the pan through a fine strainer and reserve oil in a measuring cup
- Use tongs and a paper towel, wipe out any solids from the pan
- Return the pan to the stove on low heat and add two tablespoons of the reserved oil from the Chicken Fried Steaks and two tablespoons of flour
- Cook on low heat and using a whisk, begin to combine and oil and flour; once the two have combined and are lump free, pour in 1/4 cup milk.
- Bring the heat up to medium and continue to whisk over heat; if the gravy fails to thicken after about two minutes sprinkle in some more flour
- Season with salt and pepper (generous portion of ground black pepper). If your gravy is too thick, add a little more milk
Chicken Fried Steak
- 2 lbs. cubed steak
- 1/2 cup oil vegetable, canola; not olive oil
- 1 cup milk
- 2 whole eggs lightly beaten
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika smokey
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- Set up dredging station with two bowls: One with lightly beaten egg and milk; the other with flour, salt, pepper and paprika
- Lightly salt and pepper both sides of cube steak; (if you want to make Chicken Fried Steak Fingers, slice the steaks into equal strips)
- Heat heavy bottom (cast iron works best) skillet with oil; oil should be hot enough to sizzle, but not too hot or it will catch on fire
- Dredge seasoned steak in milk/egg bowl; then coat that strip of meat lightly in the flour mixture; put the lightly floured meat strip back into the egg/milk mixture and coat both sides; then dredge that slice of meat back into the flour mixture, coating and patting the flour onto the meat strip
- Repeat the process until all the meat has been dredged twice in the egg/milk mixture and flour
- Once meat has been coated, place a few strips into the hot oil; cook strips two minutes (do not move them in the skillet yet); after two minutes, turn the meat to the other side and cook for an additional two minutes.
- At this point, you'll begin to see the batter turning golden brown; if you're cooking strips of meat, you can easily gauge the "doneness" by the color of the batter--golden brown. If you're cooking a steak, let the steak cook a bit longer than the strips to ensure the center of the meat is done
- Once meat is cooked through, place on paper towel; serve and enjoy!
- If you're cooking the steak as a whole (not strips), you'll want to brown both sides for two minutes in the oil, then turn the heat down a bit to allow the center of the steak to cook while not burning the batter.
If you like this recipe, you might want to try Classic Meatloaf!