Chicken Fried Steak


Several years ago my daughter Gillian and I drove from Chicago through some of the border states on our way back home to Connecticut.

We had a grand old time that included a (tasting) tour of the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

We also heard Grandpa Jones sing at the Grand Ole' Opry in Nashville.

One of the most astonishing things we witnessed were the thousands of people Christmas shopping in July in the malls in Gatlinburg (with motel accommodations priced at $39/night so you could shop till you dropped for more than one day).

Slowly we made our way through the magnificent Great Smoky Mountains. That was truly glorious.

And, last but not least, we saw -- everywhere we looked -- a lot of people eating chicken fried steak.

For breakfast!

Chicken fried steak for breakfast!

I love understanding local cuisine and sometimes even trying it. Somehow chicken fried steak smothered with gravy and accompanied by mashed potatoes and biscuits for breakfast seemed a bit much.

But that didn't stop me from trying it at home.

For dinner, of course.

Chicken fried steak, made properly (in the border states), is made with round steak. I substituted skirt steak. Anyone who has eaten skirt steak understands it can be tough, but you can pound it to make it more tender.

Or, you can use rib steak, but I think that's a waste for this particular recipe because, really, this kind of dish is about the fried, not the fabulous beef. If you do use rib steak though, be sure to slice it thin.

We didn't mind the chewiness of the skirt steak. Like fried veal or chicken cutlet, the outside is crispy and the inside moist and flavorful. The gravy is an indulgence.

Glad I tried it, but I wouldn't serve this for breakfast!

Chicken Fried Steak

  • 2 pounds skirt steak, approximately
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 teaspoons water, beaten together
  • vegetable oil
  • use 2 tablespoons of the seasoned flour for gravy
  • 1-1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup soy or rice milk (or more chicken stock)

Preheat the oven to warm. Cut the meat into smaller portions and set aside. In a dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper and salt and whisk the ingredients to blend them thoroughly. In a bowl, beat the egg and water together until well combined. Remove 3 tablespoons of the seasoned flour and set it aside separately. Press each portion of meat in the seasoned flour, coating the surface completely. Coat the meat portions with the egg, then coat again with more of the seasoned flour. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot enough to make a bread crumb sizzle immediately. Fry the meat portions a few at a time, leaving plenty of space in the pan, for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels and continue with the remaining meat. As the portions are cooked, place them on a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. When all the meat is cooked, discard all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the reserved seasoned flour and whisk into the fat, cooking over low-medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the stock and whisk until a smooth, thickened sauce has formed. Pour in the milk and whisk into the sauce. Remove the steaks to plates and serve covered with some of the gravy.

Makes 4 servings