Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak with Creamy Beef Gravy

Featured Ingredients: Evaporated Milk, Beef Broth

I participated in a webinar the other day sponsored by the IACP (Institute of Culinary Professionals) on 10 things every food writer should know.  I could stand to learn more than 10 things but I thought it would be a good start.  The guest speaker was Dorothy Kalins the founder of Saveur Magazine.  One of the topics discussed was about honoring and glorifying the home cook vs the rock star chef.  Simply put, the home cook prepares meals differently than a chef does.  The knife skills may be more rustic, the ingredients are familiar, but the flavors can be just as good and the meal a lot more comforting.  We can all stand to benefit from home cooking, by selecting our own ingredients, limiting the amount of fat used and thus controlling our and our family's calorie intake.  OK, this recipe doesn't necessarily qualify as calorie conscious, but I have a family of naturally thin active men, with high metabolisms so they don't care. It does however qualify as down home cooking.

On that note, this meal doesn't get any more down home.  It originates from the Southern United States and is the epitome of comfort food.  It looks like a chicken cutlet but under that crispy coating is a steak in disguise.  Ramp up the level of comfort and serve this with a luscious latte-colored gravy and some silky mashed potatoes.  And if you really want to increase the carb factor, add some country biscuits.

For this recipe I opted for my 12 inch big-ass deep skillet...

Chicken Fried Steak

1.25 lbs cubed steak (you can buy this already prepared in the store)
Salt and Pepper or All Purpose Seasoning like Adobo
1 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
3 large eggs beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil (enough to coat bottom the skillet and come up a little up the sides - you don't want to submerge the steaks)

Heat oil to 375F over medium heat
Heat oven to 250F.  This will keep the steaks warm when you prepare the gravy. Put in a rack over a large sheet pan or a broiler pan so any of the excess fat can drain.

Season steaks:

Dredge meat in flour.  You can pat the flour into the meat a little to  help it stick. Dip in eggs and dredge in the flour again.

Add meat in batches to pan, be sure not to overcrowd pan or that reduces the temperature of the oil too fast and your meat absorbs more oil.  I had two larger pieces and four smaller pieces.  I cooked the two larger pieces first then cooked the four smaller pieces.

Cook for about 3 minutes and turn when steaks start to "bleed".  You only want to turn the steaks one time. Cook another 3 minutes or so, until juices start to look clear. NOTE: Frying eats up a lot of salt and seasonings. So season the steaks with a little salt and pepper when they come out of the pan. Place in oven to keep warm. 

Creamy Beef Gravy

1/4 cup of pan drippings
3 tbsps flour
1 12oz. can of Evaporated Milk
1 cup Beef Broth
Salt and Pepper

When steaks are cooked.  Remove all but 1/4 cup of pan drippings.  Over low-medium heat, add 3 tbsps of flour and whisk, to incorporate drippings and flour.  Add evaporated milk and beef broth and continue whisking until mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon.  The fancy French term is "nappe" - like "Nap-Ay".  Pour over steak and whatever other accompanying carb you have on the plate.

Chicken Fried Steak with Creamy Beef Gravy

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