Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chicken Fried Steak for my Birthday!

Good morning!  Do you know what tomorrow is?  My birthday!  I honestly can’t believe that I am going to be 35.  I still feel 25-ish.  But I can’t feel too bad….no matter what, my sisters will always be older than me.  Ha!

Last Friday night we celebrated my birthday with some friends at a restaurant called “Ichiban”.  It is a teppanyakki restaurant in Harrah’s Casino.  That basically means that it is Japanese food that the chef cooks right in front of you.  Like Benihana’s…if you are familiar with that.  It was ah-may-zing.  So, so good.  I had lobster, filet mignon, shrimp, etc. 

We celebrated my birthday, just the four of us, last night.  I cooked;)  But I didn’t mind….because I made one of favorite things, ever.  I made chicken fried steak with country gravy.  Yes, I know I am supposed to be eating “healthier”, but hey, it’s my birthday. 

Have you had chicken fried steak?  It is tender steak with a coating like fried chicken!  Hence the name…..I cut mine into strips before I cook it, so it is more like chicken fried steak fingers.  I will show you how I made it, plus, I will show you how to make amazing country gravy.  You could put this gravy on Styrofoam, and it would be good.

Let’s start with the steak fingers first.  I used cube steak.  That is the steaks that look like they have been run over.  Actually, they have been run through a tenderizer.  They are a super cheap-o cut of beef, but with the tenderizing magic, they turn out great!  I used a one pound package.  1.16 if you want to get technical.

I also used flour, eggs, pepper, seasoned salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.  Yep, we are going to season the bajeesus out of the flour.

My first step was to slice the beef into “fingers”.  I cut against the grain.  Can you see what I mean about the meat looking like it got run over?

Now that the beef is sliced, I set up for dredging.  I have the seasoned flour in one pan, and beaten eggs in the other.

Please don’t be intimidated by this.  Dredging is easy, and actually super quick.  There is no reason that you can’t make this on a regular week night.  I promise, it goes fast.

The beef goes into the flour first.

Then in the egg….

And back in the flour.  This is what gives the steak its chicken-fried coating.  You will get a thick, crispy coating.  It needs the triple dip.

Don’t throw the flour away when you are done dredging.  You will use this to make your gravy.  It is already seasoned, so why not?

While I was getting my dredge on, I had been pre-heating a pan of oil on the stove.  I had about ½ an inch of oil down in the bottom of my cast iron pan.  Any big skillet will work.  Keep your oil over medium heat….you don’t want it to get too hot because then the coating will burn before the steak gets a chance to cook.

I cooked my fingers about 4 minutes per side.  They will get nice and golden brown.

These guys have to cook in batches unless you have the world’s biggest skillet.  If you overcrowd the skillet, the oil temperature will come down….that leads to soggy fingers.  And nobody wants soggy fingers, right?

When mine were done cooking, I placed them on a cooling rack and sprinkled them with salt.  If you are cooking a lot of these guys, keep the cooked ones warm in a 170 degree oven.

Gravy time……

For this gravy (have I mentioned how good this gravy is?), I used the leftover seasoned flour, butter, more black pepper, whole milk, and some of the fat left in the steak pan.

This was how much fat was left in my pan.  I only want to use two tablespoons of this.  The rest can get tossed.

I put the two tablespoons of fat back into the same skillet, along with two tablespoons of butter.  Once the butter melts, four tablespoons of the seasoned flour gets whisked in.

Like so.

Whisk this until it is smooth.  I cooked this for about a minute to get the raw flour taste out. 

In goes the milk.  I whisked this until smooth.  As this starts to boil, it will thicken.

See how thick that is?  As soon as it thickens, remove it from the heat….or keep in on super low heat.  Taste this, and adjust for seasoning.  Mine needed more black pepper.

There you have it…..country gravy.  It’s not pretty, it’s not healthy, but it is goooooood.

This was THE. BEST. BIRTHDAY. DINNER. EVER.  That picture above was Chris’s plate.  We couldn’t photograph mine because it was drowning in gravy.

I served my chicken fried steak fingers with mashed potatoes (duh), green beans and biscuits.  I could not have been happier with my birthday dinner.  Oh wait, yes I could have.  Chris could have cleaned up.

I will see you on Thursday!  I will show you how I made my birthday cake!

Chicken Fried Steak Fingers

1 pound cube steak, sliced into “fingers”

1 ½ cups flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 ½  teaspoons seasoned salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Oil for frying

Pre-heat a large skillet over low heat.  Add about ½ inch of oil to the bottom of the pan.

In a flat dish, add flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne.  Mix well.

In another flat dish, add beaten eggs.

Dredge steak slices in seasoned flour, then eggs, then back in seasoned flour.

Fry slices in oil, over medium heat, until browned on both sides.  This will take about 4 minutes per side.

Keep warm in a low oven.

Serves 4-6

Country Gravy

2 tablespoons of reserved fat from chicken fried steak fingers

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons left-over seasoned flour

1 ½ cups whole milk

Black pepper to taste

Salt to taste

In the same skillet that steak was cooked in, add 2 tablespoons reserved fat, and 2 tablespoons butter.   Once butter has melted, whisk in flour.  Whisk until smooth.  Cook mixture over medium heat for about 1 minute. 

Slowly whisk in milk.  Let mixture come to a boil to thicken, whisking occasionally.  Once gravy has thickened, remove from heat.  Season to taste.

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