“What made you start cooking chicken fried steak?” Mark asked the other night as he wolfed down a portion. Well, I’ll tell you.
My mother made three meats only when Louise and I were growing up – dried out chicken breasts, dried out halibut and dried out cube steak. So for YEARS I avoided all three, but especially cube steak. Then a couple years ago I was eating at my beloved Dillard House where they just load you up with every good Southern thing to eat there is, and I tried some of theirs. Wow! What a difference when you fry it up in a lot of oil and blanket it with cream gravy. Lesson learned.
So here’s the recipe and it’s more of a procedure. You start out with some cubed steak. Take it out of the package and drizzle it with a goodly amount of soy sauce and sprinkle it with garlic powder (not garlic salt). Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Now, get some flour and sprinkle a goodly amount over the steaks on both sides. This will be your crust and you do not want to be stingy with the flour. You can add some pepper here, but don’t add any salt. The soy sauce has enough salt in it to kill a horse.
Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is good and hot, add the steaks. You will have to do this in batches because you don’t want to crowd them. Fry them on both sides until they’re deeply browned. You might want to shake the skillet a few times to make sure the crust doesn’t stick to the pan. It’s all in the crust.
Now, to the cream gravy. I was talking to Terrell the other day and mentioned bechamel sauce and he said he’d never had that. I said, “Yes you have. You have it all the time. It’s the same thing as cream gravy except you use butter instead of bacon grease.” You can take the boy out of Georgia, but you can’t take…well, you know.
Cream gravy: Take two tablespoons of bacon grease and melt it in a sauce pan. Add two tablespoons of flour and stir it for a minute or so to get the raw taste out. Now, slowly add whole milk and keep whisking it in until you get the consistency you like. I use about a cup. Season it with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. This will make enough gravy for two country fried steaks. Just double it if you need more.