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Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

If Chris and I were ever on a game show, and the only question standing between us and 1 million dollars was, "What is your partners all time favorite meal", we'd be RICH!  I would have to calmly inform Bob, our game show host, that Chris's all time favorite meal is Chicken Fried Steak!! (Congratulations, Jenn & Chris, you just won ONE MILLION DOLLARS!)  WOOHOO!!

Ok, back to reality...when Chris and I first started dating, we had a little routine of getting up on Sunday mornings and going to Denny's.  Every Sunday, he would order the 'country fried steak and eggs'.  After a few Sunday's, I quickly understood that if I was going to win his heart (by way of stomach, of course) I would have to learn how to make chicken fried steak.  So my quest to win his stomach...I mean heart...began with more of a bust then a bang.  I let the steaks drain on a paper towel and they got so soggy that the bottom breading pulled completely away from the meat itself when I went to serve it. Though Chris ate it with no complaints, I knew I needed to do something to make it better.  So I looked to one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Alton Brown.  Alton takes you on a cooking journey by way of science.  He explains why things have to be done certain ways to have certain outcomes.  Long story short, I found his recipe and found my error.  Instead of draining on a paper towel, he instructs to drain on a wire rack so the grease would drain away from the meat and breading (I did not have a wire rack, so I used a broiler pan).  I tried doing this the next time I made it and wouldn't you know....success!  Thank you Alton :)

Chicken Fried Steak
Adapted from Alton Brown 
1 lbs beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
2-4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. (the only purpose of the oven is to keep the chicken fried steak warm while you finish the gravy or if you don't have a pan big enough to hold all the steaks)

Season each piece of meat on both sides with salt and pepper.  Place the flour into a pie pan.  Place the eggs into a separate pie pan.  Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour.

Tenderize the meat, using a needling device, until each side is 1/4-inch thick.  Once tenderized, dredge the meat again in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again.  Repeat with all the pieces of meat.  Place the meat onto the place and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large slope sided skillet and set over medium high heat.  Once the oil begins to shimmer, ad the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 2-4 minutes per side.  Remove the steaks to a wire rack set in a half sheet pan (or on a broiler pan) and place into the oven.  Repeat until all the meat is browned.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the oil out of the pan (add vegetable oil if there's not enough). On medium low heat, whisk in 1 tablespoon of the flour left over from the dredging.  Cook for 1 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Whisk until the gravy starts to thicken up.  Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve the gravy over the steaks.  Enjoy!

This is actually only the third time I've made this for Chris.  Come to find out, I won his stomach....excuse me.. HEART on the first meal I made for him, a stuffed chicken breast that I came up with on the fly at the grocery store on my way to his house, but I'll save that for another post.

One last thing... this is a picture taken of my parents house.  OMG that's a-lot-a snow!


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