As Wikipedia tells us:
Cube steak is a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, tenderized by fierce pounding with a meat mallet, or use of an electric tenderizer. Many professional cooks insist that regular tenderizing mallets cause too much mashing to produce a proper cube steak, and insist on either using specialized cube steak machines, or manually applying a set of sharp pointed rods to pierce the meat in every direction. This is the most common cut of meat used for chicken fried steak.
And chicken fried steak is the topic of the day, ladies and gentlemen, as hubby and I have decided to treat ourselves to some chicken fried steak, homemade mashed potatoes, country gravy (sometimes called “white gravy” or “milk gravy”), another as yet to be determined veg, and homemade biscuits (from baking mix) for supper tonight. We haven’t had any since this pandemic hit the fan here last year. Hubby had always cooked his chicken fried steak in the deep fryer, and for some time, I followed his lead, but a couple of years ago, I decided to cook it the way I used to — brown/cook the steaks in a large, non-stick skillet with just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. This method also has the added bonus of letting me make homemade gravy with the pan drippings.
Cube steak is a very lean cut of tenderized (“cubed”) beef. I like to purchase a highly tenderized cut referred to as “cube steak” or “beef cutlets” that makes a chicken fried steak that is fork-tender. You can also purchase a lean rump roast (cut intoT 1/2″ or so slices) or round steak and tenderize it yourself by beating the heck out of with the tenderizer side of a meat mallet. Chicken fried steak is more or less a Southern take on Wiener Schnitzel. As Wikipedia tells us:
Chicken fried steak (also known as pan-fried steak, CFS or country fried steak) is a dish consisting of a piece of steak (tenderized cube steak) coated with seasoned flour andpan-fried. It is associated with Texas cuisine. Its name may be due to the similarity in preparation styles between chicken fried steak and fried chicken.
Chicken fried steak resembles the Austrian dish Wiener Schnitzel (known in Latin American cuisine as milanesa), a tenderized veal or beef cutlet, coated with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs, and then fried. It is also similar to the recipe for Scottish collops.
The precise origins of the dish are unclear, but many sources attribute its development to German and Austrian immigrants to Texas in the 19th century, who brought recipes for Wiener Schnitzel from Europe to the USA. Lamesa, the seat of Dawson County on the Texas South Plains, claims to be the birthplace of chicken fried steak, and hosts an annual celebration accordingly. John “White Gravy” Neutzling of Bandera in the Texas Hill Country also claims to have invented the dish.
Chicken fried steak isn’t the nutritional disaster that many think it is: even when you deep-fry it, the trick is that if you get your oil hot enough for what you’re making, whatever you’re frying, be it vegetables or meat, will “sear” on the outside, with the result that the food actually absorbs relatively little in the way of oil. And remember, it’s made with a very lean cut of meat. Or, if you pan-fry it in a non-stick skillet, you’re using relatively little oil. (Hubby wasn’t quite certain about the steak the first time I pan-fried it in the skillet, but all those doubts vanished after he ate it.)
I promise you, this tastes so yummy, you’ll be singing along with the Zac Brown Band 😉 (Go on, give it a listen — you know you want to! The lyrics are presented right there for you, too!)
Chicken Fried Steak (Double – Dipped) (Number of servings depend upon amount of steak and heartiness of appetites; I usually fry up extra so that we have some for snacks, chicken fried steak sandwiches, and/or another meal)
- Desired amount of cube steak, cut into steaks or strips
- Beaten egg and buttermilk (approximately 1 beaten egg to every 1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk)
- All-purpose flour seasoned to taste: recommend seasoned salt (I use reduced sodium seasoned salt, and not much of that), paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and coarse ground black pepper
- Oil for frying (suggest Canola)
- Remove cube steak from ‘fridge and allow it to lose a bit of its chill.
- Lightly beat together (with fork or whisk) the egg and buttermilk.
- Season flour to taste.
- Set up baking rack(s) upon which to place cooked steaks to let them “rest,” if desired.. (Suggest placing waxed paper or parchment paper on a cookie sheet(s) and placing rack(s) on the sheet.)
- In a large, non-stick skillet, add just enough oil to coat the bottom. Heat over medium-high heat..
- Dredge steak first in flour (you can first coat in unseasoned flour, if you rather), then in egg/buttermilk wash, then in the seasoned flour. Place in heated skillet to cook. (Add and season more flour and/or more buttermilk/egg as necessary until all pieces are coated.)
- Cook steaks, trying to turn only once, until cooked through, roughly 5-6 minutes per side (it will depend upon the heat in your skillet and size of the steak pieces — for example, steak fingers are likely to cook up more quickly, a skillet with a slightly lower temperature might require a bit longer to cook per side).
- You can place the chicken fried steak directly on a paper-towel lined plate or platter and keep it warm in the oven ’til you’re ready to eat (there may be some risk of some of the steak coating “sticking” to the paper towel), or you can do as Alton Brown of the FoodNetwork suggests and place it on a rack and let it finish “crisping up,” and then place it on a platter.
- Store leftovers in the ‘fridge. Delicious cold, or will re-crisp nicely in the oven or toaster oven at 325F – 350F or after 5 or 10 minutes, flipping over/turning half-way through for best results. Chicken fried steak sandwiches are a delicious way to give a fresh take on leftovers.
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