Yesterday we celebrated my husband’s birthday (which also happens to be his brother’s birthday *and* my friend Bubba’s birthday, so I always feel like I have lots to celebrate on January 23rd), and as we finished our traditional birthday meal of country fried steak, rice and gravy, baby lima beans and tres leches cake (oh, it’ll raise your cholesterol by a solid fifteen points by the time the sun rises the next morning), it occurred to me that I have never shared my favorite country fried steak recipe with you.
I do hope you can forgive this grievous omission.
I mean, I don’t know if country fried steak speaks to you the way it speaks to the people in my family, but in my opinion it is right behind fried chicken in terms of FRIED MEAT TREATS. It’s not the kind of thing that I want to eat every week, but two or three times a year? OH, YES MA’AM.
So here’s how I make country fried steak, which is also called chicken fried steak in some places. However, I think of chicken fried steak as being dipped in a batter, and that’s not really what you do with this country fried steak recipe. Only now I’m over-explaining. And when I start over-explaining, I inevitably start screaming “SIMMER DOWN, MAMAW” in my head. So let me take a few deep breaths and see if I can get through this recipe without burdening you with all the subpoints of my meat-selection process when I’m standing at the butcher’s case.
(SIMMER DOWN, MAMAW.)
All righty. Here you go. And unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the process, mainly because posting pictures with a recipe requires “planning” and “foresight” and “thoroughness.”
Country Fried Steak (modified from about four different recipes)
First of all, you’re going to need a large-ish non-stick skillet and a couple of pie plates. It’s good to know that in advance if you like to get all your utensil ducks in a row before you start cooking.
6 pieces cube steak
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 sleeve Saltine crackers, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup Canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
Lightly salt and pepper each piece of cube steak. Set aside. Mix eggs and milk together, then pour into one of the pie plates. In the second pie plate, combine flour, crushed crackers, black pepper, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder.
Heat skillet to medium heat, then add oil and butter. Once the butter has melted, reduce heat a little bit (so that the butter doesn’t brown or burn), and get ready to fry up some meat.
Put a piece of cube steak in flour mixture, making sure to press the mixture into the meat so that the cracker crumbs attach. Do this for each side of the steak, then dip in egg mixture, and then give the meat one more dredge in the flour mixture. Shake off excess and then put meat in the skillet. Repeat with two more cube steaks (I cook three steaks at a time in my skillet, but you want to make sure that the meat isn’t crowded). After about six minutes, flip the steaks, and allow them to cook for six more minutes. Depending on your stove, you may need to adjust the heat one way or another. The oil in the skillet should be sizzling but not smoking.
Once the first three steaks are done, place them on a paper towel to drain and repeat the dredging process with the other three. You may need to add a little bit more oil and butter to your pan, so make sure that any new oil is hot before adding the next round of steaks.
After all the meat is done, you can reserve a couple of tablespoons of the grease (I know. It’s kind of gross to think about it, but OH, IT IS TASTY.) and make homemade gravy. With two tablespoons of leftover oil and butter in your skillet and the heat turned to the low end of medium, sprinkle flour (about two or three tablespoons) in the skillet and stir to combine. Make sure that you don’t have any lumps. The mixture will bubble a little bit, and once it becomes a light caramel color, stir in about a cup and a half of whole milk, along with salt to taste and a fair amount of freshly ground black pepper.
The gravy will start to thicken in a minute or so, and once it’s close to the consistency that you like, remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside. It will continue to cook and thicken a little bit. Most importantly, taste it again and season accordingly – because there is nothing worse than some bland gravy. Nobody wants gravy that tastes like paste on top of their country fried steak and rice, you know?
So there you have it. A recipe and no small amount of rambling.
I really need to work on that rambling thing.
I’ll think about that tonight when we’re having leftover country fried steak for supper.