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Howdy friends and neighbors. How do? Today we’re heading back to my father’s state of origin. Gatdamn Texas!
We’ve visited this state in the past haven’t we? I’m sure a few of you will remember this delicious homespun Texas Chili recipe. I also got into my Dad’s family in that post and we talked about the local lingo and attitudes in there if you want to read up on the Texas lifestyle.
Today though, this one is about me, mostly about my childhood and shit.
I was born in Texas, Fort Worth actually but my family moved away when I was just a few months old. I was what a Texan would call a “Little Squealer.” My parents moved around a lot since they worked for the government but as far as my dad was concerned, he was a Texan through and through. As mentioned in the linked post, my Dad’s family still lives there. There was a lot of Texas influence in the dinners my mother made when we were growing up so of course those influences got passed along to me.
I was born the youngest of 4 boys. We were born in successive years so at one point my oldest brother was a senior in high school and I was a freshman. Jesus fuck what the hell was wrong with my parents? Goddamn masochists is what they were. As a kid I was tormented, beat upon and chased around by my older brothers so to avoid the torment I retreated to the safest place I could find, the kitchen. Ma protected my righteous ass from the three older brothers so of course I got labeled as a “Mama’s boy.”
Well it is true that Ma loved me best.
During the safe time in the kitchen I became curious about the meal making process and I would ask a lot of questions, help out when I could and basically learned the meal preparation game. The reason I became a cook (I sure as hell ain’t no fuckin’ chef, I’m a cook dammit!) springs from my early days in the kitchen with Ma. Holy shit did I peel a lot of potatoes.
Today’s meal was my very favorite meal growing up and it still holds a place in my heart and my repertoire, it’s also one of the very first full meals that I made. I think it was right around the time I was 14 when I made this exact meal for the first time. That means I’ve been cooking this badass motherfucker for 40 years.
Forty fucking years.
Texas loves itself some chicken fried steak as evidenced here.
Let me go on record before we get started as saying “Woo doggies this meal isn’t the healthiest meal ever”. This was the first time I’ve made it in probably 2 years but “shit fire and save the matches” it’s really goddamn delicious.
Quick explanation time. The weekend that I made this dish was the same weekend as the most recent DFO SoCal chapter get together. The party was hosted by our own Low Commander of the Super Soldiers and also in attendance were Rikki Tikki Deadly, The Wee Baby Seamus and our own Covalent Blonde. What a fantastic time was had. Low Commander had acquired some “Cardiff Crack” which is a marinated tri-tip that is made at a meat store in Cardiff By The Sea in San Diego County and it was hands down the best tri-tip I have ever had. Thanks for being an incredible host Good Sir and I can’t wait until the next gathering.
I bring this up because I didn’t leave San Diego until Sunday morning and I still wanted to do a Sunday Gravy post for all of you fine, fine folks so I needed to do something that was fairly quick, pretty easy and something I have made tons of times in the past and would require no recipe scrutiny during the cooking process. That just screamed out chicken fried steak.
Final story before we get to the cooking stuff: when my ex wife’s best friend got married there were a bunch of folks gathered at the best friend’s house the night before to assist with the wedding prep. It was a do it yourself type wedding so we had about 18-20 folks on hand doing wedding preparation type shit. Guess what I was recruited to do? “Fuckin’ A Jasper” I was recruited to cook for everybody. I made chicken fried steak for this entire bunch of folks with the only stipulation being “Make sure I never have an empty beer next to me.” I cooked non stop for about 4 goddamn hours. It was hot as hell in that kitchen with it being in the middle of the summer and all and I sweat my ever-lovin’ ass off. Finally after everybody was fed and I had a chance to go outside and cool off I was finally ready to have some dinner for myself.
Motherfuckers ate every last bit of everything. Everything! Not saving for the cook is an executable offense as far as I’m concerned. I ended up eating some of the cubed cheese that was cut up for the wedding reception. Those fuckers.
It’s chicken fried steak time! We’re also making some homemade mashed potatoes and gravy and serving up some corn. Let it be noted that this is The Original Sunday Gravy! First gravy I ever made and have perfected over the years.
Chicken fried steak.
Round steak. Thin cut. The amount depends on how many you are cooking for. There were 3 of us eating so I bought 2 packs that were cut in half. You can use cube steak, the shit that’s already been run through and perforated but I like the flavor of round steak best. We’ve also gonna pound the fuck out of this with a meat hammer. Any other cut of steak will lead to a very tough and chewy steak.
Flour lots. 2-3 cups or so.
1 pint or a little more of whole milk. Not 2% or skim because that won’t make a tasty gravy.
2 raw eggs slightly mixed
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon of onion salt
We’ll get to the salt and pepper amounts as we go.
1/3 cup of cooking oil
1/3 cup of Crisco
Now, take that round steak out of the package, give it a rinse and pat it dry with a paper towel and place on a cutting board.
Take out your meat mallet. Stop it before you even start!
Now rinse off the blood and hair from the dead hooker that’s buried in the basement and get to pounding! Pound both sides until the meat is flattened and is ready to cooperate. It should look like this.
Cut this beast in half add some salt and pepper and then prepare a dredging station.
The key to having properly breaded chicken fried steak – very obvious note time, this same dredging process works for frying chicken too, who knew? – is to have a proper dredge station. The key here is the first dredge is just flour. This step helps keep the breading on the steak throughout the cooking time and nothing sucks more donkey ass than having your breading fall off while cooking.
So it’s plain flour, then an egg and milk mixture (2 eggs beaten and 1/3 cup of milk) followed by seasoned flour. This is flour with the onion powder, garlic powder about 1 teaspoon of salt and about 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Take each steak and toss in the flour, then dredge in the egg mix, then coat thoroughly with the seasoned flour. You can go directly into the heated skillet or dredge all of the steaks and then put in the skillet to cook. I put mine directly into the skillet.
Let’s discuss the cooking method. I use a mixture of vegetable oil and Crisco to cook mine. Ma used to use all Crisco and this is me rationalizing with myself that I’m TRYING to make it healthier. Bullshit, it’s still not a healthy meal. Fun fact! I was reading the nutrition label on the Crisco can
and there is actually a line on the can that says “Not intended for use as a spread.” What the fuck? Jesus Christ people in the South are all sorts of fucked up. Do you actually need to be told this? I just….
Bring the oil and Crisco to temp in a skillet over medium to medium high heat.
Deep fry it?
Technically you could but how the fuck are we supposed to make gravy from a deep fryer? Might as well just make a Crisco sandwich. You have to pan fry in order to make the proper gravy. Here ends that discussion.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
Cook the breaded steaks in the skillet for about 7 minutes then carefully flip them over with a spatula hoping against hope that your breading doesn’t fall off. We want these to be golden brown and fucking delicious.
I almost used the above photo for the banner image because dear God it’s foodgasm worthy.
Cook on the second side for about 5 minutes and then carefully remove the steaks from the skillet and place in an oven safe dish in the preheated 250 degree oven until all of the steaks are cooked. Repeat these steps until the meat is all cooked.
In the meantime we are going to make mashed potatoes. Alright alright. Cut a couple of pounds of peeled russet potatoes into chunks, place in a pot with enough water to cover by about 2″. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water.
Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook for about 12-15 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and put them into the bowl of your badass Kitchenaide Mixmaster 5000. Put in some salt and pepper to taste, about 2 tablespoons of butter and about 1/4 cup of milk. Mix the potatoes to desired doneness. I like mine mixed with just a lump or 3 to give it the proper potato flavor.
Believe it or not, the Kitchenaide makes this whole thing a fuck ton easier than using a hand mixer, which I used to do. Imagine hand mixing the potatoes while simultaneously making gravy and setting the table. This bad fucker is more than worth the cost. Ideally you want the potatoes to be done right about the time that our final recipe is ready.
Look, I ain’t gonna lie to you. I like you! This is the trick to the whole dish. I can’t properly give an exact recipe for this because there are so many variables involved. How many people are eating? How many steaks did you cook? There are even atmospheric conditions at play. If you haven’t made a “cream” or “white” gravy before there is a pretty good chance that it will be fucked up. It isn’t you, I promise! Remember that whole “making for 40 years” thing? Absolutely I’ve fucked up my share of gravies before. Many times. However: when executed right the gravy really pulls the whole dish together, does it not?!
What I CAN do is give a couple of tricks that work for me.
First, remove all but about 1 tablespoon of grease from the skillet that you cooked the steaks in. Please, please, please keep all of those crispy browned bits in there though. That’s the good shit right there. Now, if you have some of the leftover seasoned flour from the dredging station add about 1/2 cup of that to the skillet. Over a medium flame stir the flour around in the grease and browned bits for just about a minute. Next add in about 3/4 cup of whole milk and stir, stir stir. We are going to slowly “build” the gravy by adding in some small pours of the milk. This first step should produce a pretty thick gravy that we will gradually thin out by adding additional milk. Then we will repeat these steps and stir until we reach the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper as you go because flour and milk ain’t all that tasty unseasoned. Do be careful to not over salt. You can add it at the end but you can’t take it out if you use too much. Use a bunch of black pepper though.
The steps I use are stir, thicken and add a little more milk. Don’t add the whole pint all at once and try not to thicken by adding additional flour to the gravy, you want to have enough flour from the first step to make the gravy. Stir and build. One more variable again is how many are eating. When done right some folks will just drink this tasty bitch so be sure you have enough.
Lastly add a veggie of your choice. I just heated up a can of corn because that’s how I did it as a kid. This gives us this end result.
You’re going to put a piece of chicken fried steak on the plate, then a biggol spoonful of potatoes, top these with some gravy and follow up with a scoop of the corn.
I can’t properly describe how goddamn delicious this is. I will tell you one more time that this is not health food. You are going to overeat, you’re going to go back for seconds and yes, you will actually eat a couple of spoonfuls of just straight gravy you goddamn heathen. You’re going to be full, and bloated and sated and ready for a fucking nap and you WILL start thinking about when you can make this again without turning into a disgusting fatbody over the course of a few weeks.
I have this about once a year if that helps.
Well partners, there you go! My very favorite meal growing up. I always had this on my birthday being the Mama’s Boy that I was. I love and miss my Ma and I truly thank her for teaching me to cook at an early age and for also giving me the Texas influence. As many times as I railed about Texas in the past it was still my birthplace and I am still influenced by that.
Now you know the true origins of my very first Sunday Gravy.
Thanks for reading and get that gym membership going so you can actually eat some of this stuff.