I have always shyed away from making chicken fried steak and gravy. The task just sounds daunting and I didn't think I could make the dish turn out right. Only for the professional chef or the Southern cook, right? Okay, we had better include my Grandma too! That one will get me in trouble. . .My biggest fear? Getting the oil temperature right and constant along with frying in an iron skillet. Once that puppy gets hot, that's it! You either are frying golden brown or golden black. I stink at regulating temperature in an iron skillet. I must have woke up fearless this morning because it was on. . .I was making this meal and I was making it in an iron skillet just like Grandma!
Yep! Got my thermometer in the hot oil and I am frying! Me, frying in hot oil, shaking in my sweatpants. I would like to state that my first trial of getting the oil hot was going great. I thought I was all over it. I wanted 350 degrees and I was at a good 345. I turned around just for a second, honest. I look back and holy schnizzle! I am over 395 and quickly pushing 400 degrees! Steaks are in the oil and you can't exactly blow on an iron skillet with hot oil to cool it down you know. I would also like to state that my hubby was getting great humor out of my panic dance in the kitchen. Did I mention that I don't like hot grease and VERY RARELY fry?
Okay, calm thoughts. I took a deep breath, turned the heat down a smidgen, turned the heat down a smidgen more, and wahlaa. I am back in the frying business. I quickly finished my steaks before any more mishaps and moved on to letting them sit on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet while sitting in the oven to stay warm. I even drained my own hot grease and left 2 Tablespoons in the skillet with the leftover crumbs from frying. Yay for me. I have made a quite a few gravys' in my time, taught to me by Grandma, using a roux. Very nice and my only drawback this time is that I got carried away with the milk. I should have just followed the recipe that has been tweaked by Grandma, Bobby Flay and Paula Deen, the latter two on the FoodNetwork. I had enough gravy to feed an army. I also made extra steaks, so everyone was so stuffed after breakfast that they couldn't even squeak. Did I mention that I also made a large Dutch Apple Pancake? I'll have to blog about it later because the pancake deserves it's own page of salutations =D.
Chicken Fried Steak and Gravy
1 1/2 pounds boneless, round steak, fat trimmed and pounded a 1/4-inch thick
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
1 T. sweet paprika (I use Hungarian sweet paprika)
1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into lardons (cut pieces of fatty bacon)
2 heaping Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 c. whole milk, heated
2 T. heavy cream
1 t. finely chopped fresh thyme, can also used dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 t. beef bouillon granules
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Cut the steak into 4 equal portions.
Place the buttermilk in a medium baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and 2 t. kosher salt and 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and divide between 2 baking dishes.
Dredge the pieces a few at a time in the flour mixture and pat off excess, then dip in the buttermilk and allow excess to drain off. Dredge in the second dish of flour and pat off the excess. Put the chicken pieces on a baking rack set over a baking sheet while the oil heats.
Place 1-inch of oil in a large cast iron skillet until it reaches 350 degrees F on a thermometer. Add the steak, 2 pieces at a time and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining meat. Transfer the meat to a rack set on a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you make the gravy.
Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of the fat from the pan, leaving the crunchy pieces from the breading. Add the bacon and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
Return the pan to the stove over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the pan and let cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and continue to cook, whisking occasionally until thickened. Stir in heavy cream, thyme, beef bouillon, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and freshly ground black pepper. I set the chicken fried steak back into the gravy so that the meat can soak in some of the gravy before serving. Now dish 1 piece per person ladled with some of the sauce and garnished with a few pieces of bacon.