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Whether it's a truck stop in Texas or the Denny's down the street, chicken fried steak is a taste treat that's hard to beat. It's got to be the most flavorful way to fix an inexpensive cut of beef, and as a bonus you get delicious milk gravy that goes over potatoes or biscuits (or both -- what the heck, we don't eat this every day).
Chicken fried steak is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack, especially if you're on the road. You want the crust to be crisp and tasty, and the steak to be as tender as possible, considering it starts out as a tough cut of meat.
You can buy cube steaks or beef round steaks that have already been tenderized by the market. The run them through a machine that punches little holes all over the meat to break up the meat fibers into smaller pieces. You can help the process by pounding the steaks with a mallet or the edge of a dinner plate. Beat it down to less than 1/2 inch thick. Good psychotherapy, too. If you purchase a Jaccard, you can process the meat starting with a round steak and do it all yourself. (A Jaccard (shown below) is a kitchen gadget that you press down on the meat, sending lots of little knives into the meat.)
After the pounding and thinning, the steaks will be larger than before, so now is a good time to cut them into serving pieces. This also makes them easier to handle during cooking.
After frying, don't try to keep them warm in the oven; they will get soggy. Just put them on paper towels, or better yet, newspaper, and cover them loosely with a foil tent. Hurry up and make the gravy and get the food on the table. Before you cook the steaks, it's a good idea to get the rest of the dinner (vegetable, potatoes, salad) ready. Also, don't let the steaks sit around for too long after coating with flour. That's OK for chicken, fish, or shrimp, but the beef juices will soak through the flour. Doesn't hurt the flavor, just the appearance.
Here's a recipe for
In a bowl, mix the milk and eggs, and give it a few shakes of Tabasco.
In another bowl, mix the flour and all the remaining ingredients. Set aside three tablespoons of the flour mix to use later.
Dredge the steak pieces in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and then back into the flour again. Heat the oil in a skillet until it's shimmering; about 375 degrees F if you can measure it.
Fry the steaks five minutes on each side, drain on paper towels or newspaper, and cover lightly to keep warm.
Drain all but three tablespoons of the oil from the skillet, add the reserved three tablespoons of flour mixture, and stir to make a roux. Let the flour cook a few minutes, but don't brown it too much; we're going to make a white gravy here.
Add the milk to the skillet, and stir to thicken the gravy. Add the sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Typically this gravy is big on the pepper, so be generous.
Serve the gravy over the meat, along with mashed potatoes, rice, or biscuits. This is a real hearty stick-to-the-ribs meal. Next time modify the recipe to your own tastes, if you wish. Just think, if it's good enough you can open a truck stop.
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