Thursday, March 01, 2007

Independence and chicken-fried steak

chicken-fried steak"Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken-fried steak." —Larry McMurtry

It's been said there are three food groups in Texas: Tex-Mex, barbecue and chicken-fried steak. And as chicken-fried steak is also known as the (unofficial) state dish of Texas, I can't think of anything more appropriate to serve on March 2, Texas Independence Day. (In case you're wondering, this day marks our freedom from Mexico in 1836, which was the beginning of Texas' nine-year stint as a sovereign nation before it became part of the United States of America.)

While many foods hold sway over my heart, none (except for my beloved refried beans) reigns supreme more than chicken-fried steak, which is neither chicken nor steak (at least in the dry-aged, marbled-slab of prime beef sense of the word). This Texan delicacy is a cutlet of tenderized top-round beef, battered and fried in a skillet (much like fried chicken, hence the name), and served with cream gravy. In other parts of the country, you may see it labeled country fried steak, but a Texan would never call it that—it's always chicken fried to us. While the first time the term appeared in print is said to have been in the early 1950's, I have it on good authority that people were eating it long before then.

If chicken-fried steak sounds suspiciously like Wiener schnitzel, you are correct in your assumption. German immigrants to Texas are credited with crafting this variation, but instead of using veal, these early Texans made it with the more readily available beef. And as the cuts of meat were a bit tough, the process of tenderizing, battering, frying and coating it in gravy rendered it more palatable.

chicken-fried steakWhen I've spoken of chicken-fried steak to the uninitiated, people always get hung up on the choice of beef: "Wouldn't it be better if it were made with, say, a porterhouse?" they'll ask. But they're missing the point. I don't want to put you off and say it tastes like shoe leather (which its detractors are wont to complain), but after beating the beef and frying it up, there is just no advantage to using prime steak. Much like chili or barbecued brisket, chicken-fried steak was a tasty and innovative solution to only having not-so-choice beef on hand.

It’s not often found on menus here in the Northeast, and when it is, usually it’s a frozen, breaded cutlet, coated in either mediocre cream gravy, or even worse, brown gravy. I did see it on the menu once in Chicago, at a place I no longer remember the name. I was there on business and was having lunch with my colleagues. Of course, I was determined to try it and convinced the others at the table they should order it as well. “It’ll be a taste of Texas,” I said, “but please don’t blame me if it’s a poor interpretation.” Everyone bravely followed my lead, and fortunately, it wasn’t a bad rendition—it was freshly fried and surprisingly delicious. Most enjoyed their chicken-fried-steak dinners, save for one grump who found it inedible. “Why did you make me order this?" she said. "It’s not steak, it’s just bad beef covered in batter.” She was mistaken—it’s so much more than that. But that negative view comes with the chicken-fried-steak territory: you have to know that there are a select few who just don’t get it. But that’s OK because it leaves more for the rest of us.

All Texans have their favorite chicken-fried steak and I'm no exception: mine is my dad's. His version was my introduction to the dish and I was fortunate as a child to be able to eat it at least once a week. I knew dinner was going to be divine if I came home to the smells and sounds of chicken-fried steak frying in the pan. And while I've had hundreds of different chicken-fried steaks since, his is still superior to all others. He is renowned for his recipe and method, a craft he learned from his mother, who learned it from her mother. So not only is his the best, but it's also part of my culinary legacy—a fine inheritance, if I don't say so myself.

chicken-fried steakNow before I outline how to make it, a few words of caution. The preparation of chicken-fried steak is a violent, messy and dangerous affair. Do not be afraid of small chunks of meat flying from your tenderizer and adhering to your walls. Do not be afraid of being covered head to toe in a paste-like mixture of flour, batter and grease. And do not be afraid of hot oil splattering and some screechy sizzling as you flip the steaks in the skillet. Be patient: in the midst of this bloody battle, this culinary chaos, you will ultimately find both the beauty and order that is a plate of chicken-fried steak covered in cream gravy.

If you still have reservations about chicken-fried steak, consider these words from the late Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Jerry Flemmons: "As splendid and noble as barbecue and Tex-Mex are, both pale before that Great God Beef dish, chicken-fried steak. No single food better defines the Texas character; it has, in fact, become a kind of nutritive metaphor for the romanticized, prairie-hardened personality of Texans." High praise, indeed!

I now leave you with a recipe for this dish, which through hard work and culinary ingenuity catapults a cut of gristled beef from its rough-hewn, lowly beginnings to delectable and iconic heights. And since this edible evolution embodies the hardscrabble, self-sufficient and creative spirit of Texas, I’d say chicken-fried steak is definitely the perfect dish for Texas Independence Day.

Chicken-Fried Steak (from my dad)
Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds top-round steak
2 cups flour
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cream gravy

Method:
Cut top-round steak into 4 pieces. Pound beef with a meat tenderizer until flattened and almost doubled in size.

Place flour in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix eggs in another large bowl with milk. Take piece of tenderized beef and coat in flour. Dip coated beef into egg mixture and then dip back into flour again.

Heat on medium enough oil or lard to fill halfway up the sides of a cast-iron skillet. When a drop of water makes the oil sizzle, it's ready for frying. Take the coated beef and place it in the skillet. When the blood starts bubbling out of the top of the steak (about 3 to 4 minutes) gently turn it over with a long fork (using a spatula can cause the oil to splash out of the skillet).

Cook another 5 minutes and then take the chicken-fried steak out of the pan and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat process for remaining cutlets. And while you're frying the others, you can keep the cooked steaks warm in the oven.

Serve with cream gravy made from the pan drippings.

Yield: 4 steaks

Preparation time: 25 minutes


chicken-fried steak

Happy Texas Independence Day!

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157 comments:

Yvo said...

So delicious! (I've been having trouble commenting on your site lately...) This really makes me want to eat/make it. Your pictures.... I generally avoid chicken-fried-steak because once or twice I've ordered it and it was essentially salisbury steak batter fried. Or a hamburger. Whatever it was- it was chopped meat, which just didn't taste that good. The way you describe it sounds much better. Yum, yum...

christine (myplateoryours) said...

I'm with Yvo, this sounds much better than any version I ever had. Happy Texas Independence Day!

Homesick Texan said...

Yvo--Yep, that's what you usually get in restaurants here, battered Salsibury steak, which is NOT the same thing!

Christine--Thanks, it's indeed very tasty!

Pamela said...

Oh, my! That looks so delicious! I grew up on this fare; my Texas father taught my Arizona mother to make it in the 1940s. Using his method for many years, I have since switched to the method used by Threadgilll's here in Austin. They use a wet-dry-wet dredge. Why? They claim it seals in the juices better. I must warn you that this method really makes a mess, as the wet batter in that hot oil just explodes with a frenzy. But is it ever good!

Inane said...

According to menu pages 'find-a-food' in NYC you can get CFS at:
Duke's
Dukes's II (Used to be Earls)
Live Bait
Brother Jimmy's
Astro Restaurant
Delta Grill
Micky Mantle's
Spanky's BBQ
Virgils

I've eaten at most of these places and I can only recommend Virgil's as a place to eat. But I've never had the CFS there...

Shawnda said...

Great post! For a second there I nearly panicked... I thought I would be spending an eternity in hell for eating sushi for lunch and planning Italian for dinner on Texas Independence Day. Then I realized that today was only the 1st :) Whew!

Sherpa said...

Chicken Fried Steak is one of my ALLTIME favorite foods. I grew up in the "oilfield," area that has been influenced strongly by Texan cooking.

Brown gravy on cfs? Thats heresy of a high, high order.

If I see Country Fried Steak on the menu, I know to pass it buy. If I see Chicken fried steak on the menu, I consider it more. As Chicken Fried Steak snob--I carefully go over the description.

ellen said...

OMG-this is my childhood favorite...now I must make this for my kids to see if they will love it as well.

Homesick Texan said...

Pamela--Hmmm, I've never tried the wed-dry-wet dredge. And the dry-wet-dry dredge is messy enough, I can't imagine even more of a disaster!

Inane--That's quite a list! Thanks for sharing.

Shawnda--Sorry to give you a scare!

Sherpa--I saw country fried steak on a menu once, and told the waiter I wanted "chicken fried steak." He brought me chicken. Enough said!

Ellen--I hope your kids love it as much as you do!

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh out loud with your perfect description on using the meat tenderizer, for I, too, have felt like raw meat was flying through the air--but that is just the way it is. I was born in Texas and have lived here all of my life, but you make realize how truely blessed I am. Thanks again. Jancd

Jerry said...

Iceburg and blue cheese.. I saw that on Food network this morning!

I'll go with green Beans and bacon myself. But it's a personal preerence to be sure.

Ramona said...

Your chicken fried steak looks amazingly good. I admit, being a good New Mexican, I would probably have to throw a little green chili on top.

Tommy said...

Again, you have stirred me to leave work early and get some ingredients to make your featured recipe. You gotta stop doing this.

I really think this will taste better if you fry them in lard vs. vegetable oil.

This choice will make a huge difference.

Garrett said...

Meat hammers are fun!

Nannett N said...

Homesick Texan,

Just started reading your blog. It's great. I found it by way of Elise's Simply Recipes blog.

Got a question for you since you're a born and breed Texan. Do Texans refer to Chicken Fried Steak as CFS? I read this article in Saveur and the writer said that in TX, that's how they refer to it. Now I only lived in Austin for a year, but I never heard it refered to as CFS. Was I living in a hole or was this writer smoking something?

Terry B said...

Dang, Homesick! I just finished eating a hearty lunch and after reading this, I'm starving! Thanks to others for warning me off ordering this in a restaurant anywhere outside of Texas. I will definitely have to try this at home.

gilly said...

Hi Lisa! Another Texas treat that I've never had the opportunity to try - thanks for sharing the recipe and instructions (in all of their violent glory LOL).

Frank M said...

Happy Texas Independence Day! (I sure miss those celebrations at Waterloo Brewing!) Very nice piece on Chicken Fried Steak. I may have to head over to Hoover's Cooking tonight for dinner-they make a mean 'CFS' too!
Frank in Austin

Pamela said...

For Ramona,
You wouldn't be completely out of line with the green chile. They do that here in Austin at Chuy's (a Tex-Mex restaurant known for roasting Hatch chiles each August and featuring them in their menu throughout the year).

Pamela said...

Ooops, Ramona. I meant Shady Grove, which is just a couple of doors down from Chuy's.

Randy said...

Hey, that's right! Independence Day...Remember the Alamo...Hoist a Lone Star brewsky, or a Shiner. Happy March the Second to all Texans everywhere. And thanks for the recipe. I might try it out my turn to cook.

rob said...

First cream gravy, now chicken fried steak. You are my hero. I appreciate your point about using a less than ideal cut of beef. What such cuts lack in tenderness they tend to make up for with a stronger, beefier flavour. And that's what counts when you're going to be tenderizing the meat anyway. Happy Independence Day!

Homesick Texan said...

Jancd--Yep, it can get ugly!

Jerry--Green beans and bacon is an equally delicious side dish!

Ramona--Green chili is good, I also like Tabasco on top.

Tommy--You better be careful, leaving work early all the time to go home and cook good food, I'd hate to see you get in trouble! And yes, lard is the way to go.

Garrett--Indeed, they're great stress relievers.

Nannett--Yes, many do refer to it as CFS. I tend to avoid this though becuase I like to say "chicken-fried."

Terry B--You're welcome! Enjoy!

Gilly--It can be messy, but the rewards outweigh the travails.

Frank--I haven't been to Hoover's yet (I usually go to Tony Southern Comfort when I'm in Austin) but I aim to try it next time I'm there.

Pamela--I LOVE Shady Grove! Such a relaxing place to while away a meal.

Randy--And remember Goliad! Hear, hear!

Rob--You bet, using cheaper cuts not only makes the meal more economical but tastier as well.

vlb5757 said...

Wow, other than Tex Mex, this is my most favorite meal in the whole wide world. Can there be anymore of a perfect food?? And cream gravy to boot. You sure know how to call all of us to dinner!!!

Kenyo said...

I love your blog. And what a wonderful surprise today -- I've been planning all week to make chicken fried steak tonight. And I was thinking some buttermilk instead of regular milk might be nice this time.

Sorry I missed Texas Independence Day but I'm from Maine so it's a miracle I dare attempt chicken-fried steak at all.

Mass Ave Eats said...

This post makes me a little bit sad that I became a vegetarian.

Eric from Eager Eater said...

My mouth is watering. Absolutely one of my favorite meals. Requires fasting for the rest of the day. I have been to places in Texas that serve platter-sized fried steak, with a separate plate for the sides. I think I'm going to get my cast iron skillet out...

Anonymous said...

I've never had chicken-fried steak but it sounds (and looks) sooooo amazingly sinful. I want somma that.

Ari (Baking and Books)

Vanessa said...

Lisa, I know you're not gonna want to hear this, but you've just inspired me to me make Chik'n Fried Tofu. I might even top it with a (yikes!) vegan "cream" gravy. C'mon, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Callie said...

I'm honestly a bigger fan of chicken-fried chicken, but I usually can't resist ordering CFS or CFC if it's on the menu at a home cookin' type restaurant.

In Austin, I gotta agree that the best place for CFS is Hoover's.

My favorite southern meal is the "white out". A big slab of CFS/CFS, mashed potatoes, and a biscuit. All covered in cream gravy. Maybe something green on the side if my mother is with me. ;)

My great-grandmother made a variant called smothered steak. The difference was there was less of a coating and brown gravy. Now I'm tempted to whip one up for dinner. Yum!

Homesick Texan said...

Vickie--I hear you! It's one of my favorite meals as well!

Kenyo--What serendipity! Enjoy!

Mass Ave Eats--You can do variations such as tofu, portobello mushrooms, eggplant or veggie burgers.

Eric--Those platter-sized chicken-fried steaks keep you full for days!

Ari--It's indeed sinful but mighty tasty!

Vanessa--I have no problem with that. Why should vegetarians and vegans miss out on all the chicken-fried fun? I can't wait to see what you come up with--a la your vegan biscuits and gravy.

Callie--I love the white out too. So decadent but so good! And I definitely need to try Hoover's!

john ford said...

the Union Picnic in Williamsburg actually has a pretty good chicken fried steak.

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/union-picnic/

Yvo said...

I thought of you on Saturday when my friends and I found ourselves at Essex for brunch. My friend's bf wanted to try the chicken fried steak and I mentioned your post, and how I was sure it would be chopmeat/ground beef. He shrugged and ordered it anyway; though he seemed to like it, he said that it was indeed ground beef batter fried and therefore kind of, well, gross. I ordered something else that came with "sausage gravy" (the same gravy he'd had on his) and the sausage gravy, while less than authentic, was pretty good. Lessons learned. :)

Anonymous said...

Used to be known as "Southern Fried Steak," somewhere along the line it became "Chicken..." Easier for the masses to understand, I guess. And NO, Texans don't refer to it as CFS, although your waiter might write it down like that. Peace, Y'All.

Fort Worth Doug said...

My college roommate and I made a roadtrip from Stephenville (go Tarleton State) to Lake Texoma one weekend of our senior year. We made a sacred vow to each other to only eat Chicken Fried Steak all weekend. We also made it a point to rate our experiences along the way. We experienced the best Chicken Fried Steak at hole in the wall establishments. The fancy restaurants didn't have the knack. This blog explains why superbly.

wiscobiscuit said...

I'm a non-texan that goes to Austin every chance i get and i'm homesick and hungry when i'm not there. My sublime CFS experience was/is the Broken Spoke (and dancing it off afterward is a bonus). Proof that you can batter a boot, drown it in cream gravy and it'll be the best thing you ever slapped a lip around. I'll keep Hoover's in mind next time i go.

Ahh, Shady Grove...gonna miss the trailer park when it goes condo soon. I'll try their steak if i can ever stop eating their burgers and Airstream Chili.

A tip for avoiding the kitchen-as-abbatoir mess during tenderizing: cover your meat board and the beef w/ plastic wrap before you bash. It doesn't stick and saves a lot of cleanup time.

Gotta go make some liver 'n' onions now, then sit back and listen to the arteries harden. What a delightful blog.

Susan said...

I enjoyed your post. One of the best parts of cooking is experiencing that feeling of connecting to one's family.

Homesick Texan said...

Yvo--That's too funny...I know now to avoid the chicken-fried steak at Essex.

Anon--It does seems to be a written thing, I've certainly never heard anyone say "CFS."

Fort Worth Doug--Yep, hole-in-the-wall restaurants usually serve the best food. I follow the pick-up truck rule: if there's more than 3 trucks parked outside the place is good.

Wiscobiscuit--I never thought about covering the beef w/ plastic wrap--great tip! And what's happening w/ Shady Grove?

Susan--Indeed, family food memories are the best inheritance.

wiscobiscuit said...

According to a Feb 2 Austin Chronicle story on good development in the city, "goodbye Shady Grove RV Park, hello condominiums," starting in early '08. They're planning to preserve the restaurants (Austin Java owner is a full partner in the project), but sounds like the trailer pads will be under 6 stories of concrete. Website that provides info on an ask-and-you'll-receive basis is www.bartonplaceaustin.com
Sorry to veer dangerously off-topic while daydreaming what to make for dinner.

Lesley said...

Thanks for the tribute to CFS. I still need to make it for my DC friends who have never heard of it (gasp!) Oh, don't forget about the irreplaceable side of fried okra. CFS, fried okra, mashed potatoes and my granny's homemade rolls is the best meal ever!

ann said...

I've never had a chicken fried steak, but something tells me I'd really, REALLY enjoy one.

Tatsu said...

If you have trouble with the batter sticking, put the battered steak in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before frying.

drbiggles said...

Dang, 42 comments, what's that all about?!?

I've been a follower of the C Fried Steak since the early 1970s. This also includes the Hot Turkey Sammich, I'll get those each time. I think maybe I'll to a dueling recipe on MH, it'd be perfect!

Looks as though Will Conway is flying out for my grilling class, I'll save you a place.

xo, Biggles

Vanessa said...

I know that is fracking delicious. I'm a big fan of bisquits and gravy and chicken fried steak...nothing says contentment like the sound of arteries snapping shut.

Ivonne said...

I. Am. Salivating.

Especially since after my recent trip to Vienna ... I keep thinking about the wiener schnitzel.

I confess I had no idea what chicken-fried steak was before this post. Another dish to add to my list of things to eat when in Texas.

Homesick Texan said...

John Ford--I'll have to check that out--thanks!

Wiscobiscuit--Oh, how sad!

Lesley--You definitely need to educate your DC friends in the finer points of chicken-fried steak!

Ann--Oh, it's sooooo good!

Tatsu--Thanks for the tip!

Dr. Biggles--Looks like I need to book a plane to the Bay Area! And I'd love to see a meat duel on MeatHenge (though I think beef would beat turkey!)

Vanessa--It is indeed fracking delicious! Our poor arteries!

Ivonne--You know, I've never had wiener schnitzel, but I'm eager to try it since it's a relative to chicken-fried steak.

wheresmymind said...

Any recipe that is "Violent" deserves my attention...especially in the fried steak realm ;)

john ford said...

You gotta' try the schnitzel texan. The plain ones are great with just a squeeze of fresh lemon and a garnish of raw onion. Very tasty. The holstein schnitzel is topped with an egg. (and as my Aussie friends know, everything is better with a fried egg!) My favorite is the Jaeger Schnitzel. It's got sort of a cream/mushroom gravy. Could be the roots of the CFS. Used to be a place I went on the UES that was really good with the schnitzel. Can't remember the name of it. However, the Lederhosen in the West Village is pretty good and they have a nice selection of German Beer. mmmmm... beer. It's a little place, between Bleeker and Bedford on Grove St. (Just around the corner from Chumleys!)

craptastic Lederhosen website-> http://www.lederhosennyc.com

Tim said...

Chicken Fried Steak!
If someone can post a good garlic based sauce for this I would be in heaven.

dynagrrl said...

I ADORE chicken fried steak, and your Dad's recipe is just like the one we make in Oklahoma. You can see it on hungeroverthirst.blogspot.com, we had it when I was home over Christmas! Delish!

James said...

I had a chicken fried steak in DC today. It was not worth the calories. I should have learned my lesson many years ago, but some time the desire to connect with other times and places is just too strong to resist. Next time I will resist unless I am in Texas.

I love you photography. You have wonderful technique.

Happy Texas Independence Day, a week late. My daughter was born on Texas Independence Day in Austin and she is a chef. She recommended you site to me. She knows how to get to good old dad ... through his stomach.

mae said...

Hi Lisa, i will be making this and the cream gravy very soon.

It's strange that it's called chicken-fried steak and there's not even a hint of chicken in it. :)

It looks fantastic.

Mae

lee said...

As a former Texan now living in Arizona, I miss good CFS more than just about anything else from Texas. And the best place I ever ate CFS was at Mary's Cafe in Strawn, Texas. Served with an iceberg lettuce salad, freshly cut home fries, and nice big bowl of gravy. MMM, just thinkin' about it makes my mouth water.

cathy@noteatingoutinny.com said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can't wait to try this...

sarah said...

ohh, being a Canadian I am not all to familiar with chicken fried steak...but I'd love to try this. It sounds incredibly sinful, tasty and greasy...I'll have to look up your recipe for cream gravy to...yum yum yum

Homesick Texan said...

Wheresmymind--Ha! It's a great way to get out your aggression, that's for sure!

John Ford--Sold!

Tim--I reckon you can just add roasted garlic to the cream gravy and it would taste great.

Dynagrrl--Never had a chicken-fried steak in Oklahoma, but I reckon they'd be pretty much the same.

James--Thank you! And yes, sadly, outside the state chicken-fried steak often disappoints.

Mae--I know, it confuses people sometimes but there's no chicken, just steak.

Lee--I've never been to Strawn, but small Texas towns is often where you find the best chicken-fried steak indeed.

Cathy--You're welcome! Enjoy!

Sarah--It's all of the above, but well worth the decadence. And you should have no problem finding the ingredients in Canada.

Melissa said...

I can't believe I forgot to comment on this, but I just wanted to let you know that this little recipe is safely tucked away for the day (very soon, I hope) when I will finally satisfy my curiosity about this oddly-named dish and make it. Even back when I was a vegetarian I remember running across references to chicken-fried steak and thinking it sounded kind of scary, but awfully good. Seeing the specifics spelled out has convinced me that I wasn't too far wrong - on either count... ;)

Homesick Texan said...

Melissa--Wonderful! I can't wait to hear what you think about it. And don't be frightened by the preparation, it's good fun!

Olivia said...

Happy Belated Texas Independence Day!

The whole time I lived in Texas I loved chicken fried steak with mashed potato and white gravy - only white would do! And a dash of Tabasco on top.

Oh my, I can smell it right now and my mouth is watering. We can't find it in the UK. Couldn't even find it in Canada at Christmas - NOT EVEN from the Stouffers Hungry Man frozen range, which I used to like actually, call me a Philistine if you will.

Good news, though, a Whole Foods store is going to open here in London this summer, set to be the largest food retailer in the UK. I wonder how many things they will have from...um..back "home". (I am British but am immensely proud of the years I spent in Tx. "Wasn't born in Texas but got here as fast as I could". Having said that, my Texan friends always insisted I'd left my heart in London. Well, now it's half here and half there.)

leo said...

when in san antonio, it's "bud jones" (sw military drive) for the cfs is so big that it hangs off the sides of the plate. i've also heard lulu's jailhouse cafe (downtown) is also good (including their famous monster cinnamon buns).

outside of sa, the "grist mill" in gruene (pronounced "green"). get a table that overlooks the river.

Aaron said...

I ate the CFS at Virgil's a couple of Sunday's ago after seeing here that they have one.

Verdict: it's bad.

First of all, the menu refers to it as a "Georgia Chicken Fried Steak." Excuse me? Georgia?! Whatever. I ordered it anyway, because I was desperate. It had Ruffles potato chips in the crust.

It had Ruffles potato chips in the crust!

Rusty said...

Great stuff!

Now, personally, as another Texan in New York, I'm willing to deal with eating one from a place that calls it "Country Fried." In fact, probably the only place worth ordering the cotton picking thing within an hour of New York is up at the Chili's in Monroe/Harriman (by West Point), which at the very minimum does a very respectable job on CFS, despite the "Country" you'll see on the menu.

But then, what you're willing to accept in the dearth of all good, real food that is New York City may just be a little more than you'd accept in Dallas...

O'Dub said...

Hi,

Just found your website. My wife was searching for CFS recipes, and sent me this link. I'm hungry already!

I was born in Texas, but moved away when very young. While in the Navy I lived in Texas for several years, and quickly fell in love with the cuisine.

We're cooking CFS for dinner tonight, and are always looking for hints and tips for variations of the basic recipe. HomesickTexan, your dad's recipe is almost identical to ours, and I agree, it is the best.

A couple of things we do differently. I won't say these make CFS better; no way would I claim to improve on your dad's recipe!

1. Add some cornstarch to the flour used in coating the steak. This is a tip we picked up from Chinese cooking. It makes the coating a little more crispy.

2. Always use bacon grease. Adds depth of flavor.

3. Drain on a wire rack. This allows the steak to drain, but won't wick the moisture into the batter and make the crust soggy.

4. Use evaporated milk in the cream gravy, make it a little richer. One recipe I saw added browned ground beef to the cream gravy. Talk about decadent!

Homesick Texan, you are so right about chicken fried steak. I can't wait for dinner, my mouth is watering. A caloric dish, to be sure, but well worth an extra 60 minutes on the cross trainer!

BTW, ever made King Ranch Chicken? It's another family favorite. I'll send you a recipe if you'd like.

Great website, I'll come back often.

Anonymous said...

Next time you're in Phoenix, try the Chicken Fried at TEXAZ Grill.

drjoe.az said...

HEY... I was just in DALLAS and the D magazine has a LIST of the TOP 25 places to eat CFS in Dallas.


Pretty good and I learned alot about CFS that I didn't know before. Now I know why they are so NUTS about CFS. Good BLOG

kerri said...

homesick... me too! i'm from san antonio, and have lived in nyc three years now (moved here to be a food photographer). i was hoping my cravings would subside, but i guess not. i am constantly searching the city for good texas food....

great blog (i can't believe i'm actually inspired to respond). great points about cinqo de mayo,flour tortillas, and texas in general.

a couple of chicken-fried specific notes....

duke's version sucks. i was in the throes of a texas craving, and ordered it, real steak, but somehow sweet (that seems to happen outside of the state)

also, try putting the gravy under the steak (a trick i learned at tip-top cafe in san antonio, amazing, opened in like the 1940's and last time i checked was something like $6.95 for a huge steak, two sides and a salad. so yummy...) it keeps it crisp and delicious....

can't wait to try the recipe

Homesick Texan said...

Olivia--When Whole Foods opened in NY, they didn't have quite as many Texas things as they do back home, but they have more Texas things than any other grocery store!.

Leo--Grist Mill sounds wonderful, will try it next time I'm near Gruene.

Aaron--Ruffles??? Good to know, I'll avoid it.

Rusty--Have you tried the one at the Chili's in Times Square?

O'Dub--I LOVE King Ranch Chicken! Hope to write about it soon. And thanks for the tips!

Anon--Will do!

DrJoe.az--Thanks, and the source for that article is dallasfood.org. This guy spent months eating chicken-fried steak all over Dallas and Houston and Austin. It's an amazing read.

Kerri--Welcome! Good to know to avoid Duke's. And what a great idea putting gravy under the steak, I'll have to try it! Are you still doing food photography?

Christopher said...

I just found this post and it makes me want to run off to Colorado to see my mom. Her Chicken Fried Steak is my favorite.

Now, I'm homesick...

BEAR said...

I am a Houston born Texan living in northern Colorado, 30 miles south of Cheyenne. I love your recipe. Best I've had in a while. I am hard pressed to find any food like home unless I cook it myself. No BlueBell Ice Cream, no What-A-Burgers, no Ninfa's fajitas. A vast wasteland. Back to CFS, grand ma in Galveston used to save all the bacon grease and that is what she fried the chicken, the shrimp, the okra, and the CFS in. Also started all the roux's and sauces/ gravies with it and flour. Or she would use butter if it was a lighter sauce. I could go on, but it would take too much time. Also, as a river guide for 25 years, we use to serve our guests Texas River Bottom Pudding which seems to be a favorite up here when I fix it. 3 parts chocolate pudding to two parts whipped cream. Add miniature marshmallows, pecan chips, chocolate chips to taste. Serve in a bowl with more whipped cream on top and a cherry. Ice cold on a hot day does wonders. Best regards, BEAR. (bearslighthouse@frii.com)

Dale said...

Lee your right about Mary's in Strawn, it has got to be the best to be had. They serve it right there too, 2 plates, 1 for the steak and 1 for the fixin's.

Anonymous said...

Am I a Texan? You bet your sweet ass I am. Born in St. Joseph Hospital, Houston Texas in 1943. Ph.D. from U of H in 1974. Currently an expat living somewhere on the Pacific in Mexico. After dreaming about good chicken fried steak for the last 2 or 3 years, I finally decided to do something about it and ran into your blog and recipe. Gotta say my side is still sore from laughing so much at your good humor. Thanks, Patasalada

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. One of the great lines from a movie: In The Last Picture Show, Ben Johnson's character walks into the town's cafe, sits down at the counter and calls out to the cook, "Chicken-fry me a steak!" Find the verb in that sentence.

I always serve the cream gravy on the side for dipping...I can't bear the thought of anything "soggying up" that crisp crust. I also dip the mashed potatoes and the roll in it. I could bathe in it!

Thomas said...

I hate to disagree with the hostess of this fine column, but, no
Nannett, Texans' do not refer to Chicken Fried Steak as CFS. I was born and raised in Texas, and spent my first 24 years there and never once heard it referred to as an acronym. This is just the new generation of lazy bloggers who don't want to spell it out.

Anonymous said...

I am a fifth generation Texan. Just reading this makes me hungry. Where I come from, we do occasionally say "CFS" or "chicken fried," but usually we use the full name. Once I had something called chicken fried steak in Wyoming. It was a marinated, pan-fried flank steak. It tasted okay, but it was not what I wanted. Give me the real (Texas) thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm english but when I found your recipe I just had to try it, and I have two words, YUM YUM. It was lovely, I'll definately be having it again and might even make the trip to Texas one day to have the real thing

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recipe. Well, I was born in Texas, but left at 3 months of age and have spent the remainder of my life in the northeast and midwest. I think I had chicken fried steak *once* -- and yes, it was called country fried steak. Not bad, but I'm sure it was nothing compared to what I'd get in Texas. I actually did visit Texas once in my adulthood, but alas, I was too busy enjoying the Tex Mex to get any chicken fried steak.

Sam

Roger from VA said...

I love cast iron cooking and just happened to be looking for recipes and found this site.I will try to duplicate this recipe for CFS using my fine cast iron and hope I can introduce your texan cooking to my Virginia family. It is 1214 a.m. and i am getting hungry for dinner sat night.Will let u know how it goes.

Laurie Kendrick said...

Hi Homesick,

Interesting perspectives from so many about Cuisine Texana (I don't know if that's actually an applicable name but it sounds so downtown Manhattan). I'm a native Texan currently living in Houston. I grew up in the San Antonio area and I can assure you, I can't get good Tex Mex here in Houston. And the Alamo is just 191 miles due west.

I think it's because there's such a confluence of Latino cultures here in Houston. You get Guatemalans who open a restaurant and they use their spices and cooking methods and call it Tex Mex because it's marketable, but one taste and you know it isn't. The same thing with Columbian and and El Salvadorian restaurants who pass themselves off as Tex Mex.

Yuck.

It's like trying to get a knish in
Galveston or a slice of pizza anywhere other than NYC.. as my very Texas mother would say, "It's just not done!"

Best,
Laurie Kendrick
Houston

Anonymous said...

I realize this thread is from March and it is now October. However, I just found your site and have been hooked for the last two hours! I live in Dallas and love reading about all of our local favorites!

If you are ever back in the area, you must visit Babe's Chicken Dinner House for chicken fried steak! Someone took me there when I was new to the area almost 15 years ago. There are several locations in the Dallas area now, but the original one in Roanoke is the best! They have only two main dishes on the menu, chicken fried steak and chicken fried chicken. Both are served with all you can eat side dishes, green salad, homemade creamed corn, mashed potatoes with cream gravy, and homemade biscuits. The dinner is served family style in huge portions. If I'm not mistaken, it is under $10. I think the first time I was there it was just under $7 for dinner! You definately can't beat it. It's a true Texas experience!!!

http://www.babeschicken.com/

SwedenExTex said...

Ooh gonna surprise the hub and son with this one really soon. We three drove from Vegas (visiting) to San Antonio and trust me when I say we ate our way across the west. Mostly divine! On the 2-week trip, we had one very authentic CFS (husband's 1st ever, since he is European) in a small town in either AZ or NM and then some very poor ones at Alamo Café in San Antonio (I know, but their queso was calling us back). I think that this + the cream gravy and biscuits (and green beans, that is how we ate this meal while growing up in Texas) will send us groaning with pleasure and stomachs distended, but happy to have had it. You are a kind soul to share all this with us. I like your type!

Anonymous said...

tom from Washington state loves chicken fried steak i grew up here but know what it is and I use pre tenderized round steak we call it cube steak much easier than tenderizeing it your self I like to add alittle garlic powder to the flower mix myself.......gonna make some tonight!!!!!!! I hate the places that passes of chopped and formed breaded patties as chicken fried steak.....

Anonymous said...

Well up here in the Panhandle we refer to them as "a chicken fry", not bothering with the steak part. If you want chicken you order the fried chicken. I bread mine with cracker meal instead of flour, using the double dip milk & eggs mixture dredge, with generous salt and pepper. I've eaten these all my life and it's considered standard fare in the Texas Panhandle. The meal is not complete without homemade mash potatoes with cream pan gravy made out of the grease from the chicken fry. I also like a small salad with blue cheese dressing on the side, a piece of Texas toast pan fried to crisp in butter and a tall glass of sweet iced tea.

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered what chicken fried steak is -- and now I know. (My family is from England, and that is why I am ignorant.) Happy frying!

Anonymous said...

I am Marylander for the last 20+ years. I lived in New Orleans when I was younger and always cook southern food when I can. When we were newly engaged, I cooked chicken fried steak and mississippi fish fry for my fiance. Needless to say, everything was smooth from then on and we are now happily married. I didn't even know what CFS was. I saw it in Southern Living and decided I was going to make it, but I could not fathom the magical powers of CFS.

B & S said...

We just moved to AZ and miss this as well. The absolute best CFS I ever had while growing up near Houston was at a seafood restaurant called Windswept down in the Oyster Creek/Freeport/Lake Jackson. (S of Houston about 50 miles)

Great post! We are going to make this.

B & S said...

Oh and we recently found out that Chicken Fried Steak is covered in cream gravy, while 'Country' fried steak is traditionally covered in brown.

I'll take Chicken Fried Steak anyday.

Happy Texas Independence!

Anonymous said...

Expat trapped in Washington DC, here. This recipe is almost exactly what we do at home: we like buttermilk in a breading, buttermilk makes just about everything taste better.

And if you make this, with beaten biscuits on the side, you can work out a tremendous amount of pent-up aggression! And then get some gravy therapy on the side. What's not to love?

I'm having a massive problem with the refried beans myself. Around here there are a lot of salvadoreans - refried red or black beans are available, but not decent pintos. I have resorted to making them myself. Bought a can of manteca just for the purpose. MMMMMMmmmm. Refried beans. I really do miss the ones at El Pato in the Rio Grande Valley, however. Down there a decent tamale or a good side of refrieds is ubiquitous. Would that I were there now. . . .

Keep on hunting for that bliss! Somewhere in New York there has to be a lonely, cold Mexican expat with a can of manteca. You just need to find her cafe!

Nana T. said...

I am a first time reader of you blog and love it. I am from Texas and know what you mean about missing all the great food. I also use only my father's version of how to make chicken fried steak and just thought I would share what he always did. Of course we always used tenderized steak or cutlets and he would have a dish of flour with salt and pepper and a little garlic powder in it. Then he would have another dish filled with water and he would put ice cubes in the water to make the water very cold. Put the meat in the cold water and let it sit a little while, then take out and dredge in the flour. Immediately put the steak into the hot oil and fry it until golden brown and done. This method doesn't have the thicker breading most do but it has a nice thinner very crispy crust. The cold water has something to do with it. Just thought you might want to try this method once as I am also going to try your father's recipe.
Good Luck and keep up the great blog.

Anonymous said...

I've found that chicken fried steak is the ultimate comfort food. I've actually noticed that if the meat is soaked in buttermilk for 30 minutes or so before dredging, it comes out even more delish!

Anonymous said...

holy moley!
this was amazing! this was my first time making chicken fried steak and i was more than pleased w/ the results
i made a gravy out of the pan drippings! i was going to save it for later but ended up eating pretty much all of my share.
i will definetly be checking back on this blog when i want good recipes! thanks a million.

John said...

Funny, I grew up in Houston-18 years and then Austin for twelve. I've lived in San Diego for 23 years or so. I just went to Austin and yep, I insisted on BBQ, TexMex and a chicken fried steak. I had BBQ at the County Line-pretty good. TexMex at Jorge's and El Patio(my old fav) and chicken fried steak at Hut's and Doc's Burgers(Ithink)on S. Congress, which was better than Hut's. Also The Tamale House on Airport Rd about 51st St is a must.
Thanks for the fun-John

Anonymous said...

My verison is pretty similar - from my Grandmother who was born in San Saba in about 1910. She always made hers into smaller peices - fingers she called them. She also always used the edge of a small dinner plate for the tendorizing - couldn't afford a real tendorizer.

Whatserface said...

Wow! I've started cooking more and I'm always reading what I call 'food porn'. I'm a naturalized Texan in Houston and I made, using your dad's recipe, chicken fried steak for the first time.

Damn good! And thanks for the warning about messiness--b/c good lord, I started off with a just cleaned kitchen and ended up with CFS in a kitchen that had had a flour tornado.

Great website and hurry on back to Texas!

Texanewyorker said...

I am so excited to find your blog! It's got ALL my favorites! I haven't run into any re-located Texans up here, so I had no idea that I wasn't the only expat who missed BBQ, Tex-Mex, and chicken fried steak with such longing. I bought some cubed steak just tonight and was looking for a recipe to do it myself and found your site. Can't wait to try it! It's really fun reading all the posts with so many of my favorite Texas/Austin restaurants mentioned. I'll let you know how it goes!

Ann said...

Thank you for celebrating authentic chicken-fried steak. I wrote a piece in the Dallas Morning News in February defining what makes a CFS authentic and lamenting the transition to deep-frying the steaks and serving them with gravy from a mix. The words "chicken-fried steak" first appeared in print in 1936 during the Texas Centennial in Dallas. I found the reference while researching my entry on chicken-fried steak in the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Anne is my blogger handle.

Travis said...

Sorry I come late to the discussion (almost three months, but I just saw the link to the blog in the Statesman this morning). For you Zonies, you have to go to TexAz Grill on 16th and Bethany, in Phoenix. They do the best CFS I have had outside Tejas, and it has a cool vibe that will feel like home (pictures of Willie, Texas flags, and cold Shiner).

The Canadian Carrabine's said...

I'm near tears! And starving! I stumbled on your blog looking for a kolache recipe. I'm a Texan stuck in Canada, and desperate for some good food. Luckily, I'm heading home in a week, but I can't even wait that long. I'll be making chicken fried steak, kolaches, and flour tortillas this week. And I made cream gravy with sausage last week (No Owen's, or anything close here either.) - And I add a touch of garlic salt to my gravy, fabulous! I will read your blog regularly now. And I too put Rotel in my carry on, along with many other items. Oh, and you'll love this, we recently had a crawfish boil, and I learned how to make ettouffe with the left overs. How the rest of the world can get buy on such boring food I just don't know!

Travis said...

Looks like my comment was a year and three months late, but hey, never too late to talk about great CFS.

BarbaraC1977 said...

I've lived away from Texas for 35 years, but your foods and recipes ring SO true, e.g. I agree that a true Texan never puts sugar in cornbread.

It may be heresy, but I like the Furr's Cafeteria Chicken-Fried Steak, with thinly sliced grilled onions and brown gravy on top. (I like my gravy less "stiff" than many white/cream gravies.) Anyone else like CFS with grilled onions and brown gravy?

KENT IN KENTUCKY said...

JUST FOUND YOUR RECIPE WENT DIRECTLY TO THE GROCERY IM BACK WITH ALL THE FIXENS FOR YOUR RECIPE I WILL LET YOU KNOW BY THE WAY THERE IS A REST. NAMED CHEDDARS IN LOUISVILLE THAT FIXES THE BEST CHICKEN FRIED STEAK IVE EVER HAD THE STEAK TAKES 1 PLATE BY ITSELF ALSO SO IF YOU SEE CHEDDARS TRY THEIR COUNTRY FRIED STEAK THANKS AGAIN

Ron Davis said...

Am I the only person that prefers my CFS for breakfast? It is sooo tasty with some hash browns, scrambled eggs with cheese and toasted english muffin. My entire life, this has been my breakfast of choice. Nearly all diners and restaurants in Montana and Washington will offer this delicious meal in the AM, but unfortunately i live in manhattan now and cannot find it anywhere. But you can get a bagel with smoked salmon everywhere here. How stupid is that? If anyone knows of a resto in NYC that serves a good CFS for breaky, please let me know...

rondavis12@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Chicken-Fried Steak has always been one of my favorite foods, being from the South (Alabama) but I was always hesitant to learn how to make it, thinking it would be difficult. After a Google search for making corn tortillas, I landed here and found the CFS recipe along with the Puffy Tacos recipe. I've made both of them and let me tell anyone who might be reading: Homesick Texan knows how her stuff! The Puffy Tacos and the CFS both turned out to be DELICIOUS and PERFECT, and easy, too. I cooked both dinners for my Mom and Dad who loved them, too. From now on, this will be one of my trusted sources of great food & great recipes. Thanks so much, Homesick Texan. :)

Eric

Farmer Jen said...

Best Chicken Fried Steak I've ever had, and I made it myself from your recipe! Loved it. Made the cream gravy & the biscuits too. Sure did remind me of Texas. Thank you so much for the recipes and a great blog.

WNCRod said...

I miss sitting down to a good plate of chicken fried steak. My favorite sides to accompany it are mashed potatoes (of course) and fried okra. Can't get a good CFS up here in North Carolina. I did get to enjoy my favorite (served up by Cotton Patch Cafe) a few months ago when I went home to Texas. I've tried to explain it to people here, but they don't get it. Thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fifth-generation Native Texan. My great aunt lived her entire life in Comanche County, Texas, and was a master of Chicken Fried Steak. Her main CFS secret: soak the tenderized beef in buttermilk overnight before battering. She served her CFS's with home-grown green beans and made-from-scratch biscuits accompanied with wild mustang grape jelly made from native grapes she gathered from vines growing along the barbed wire fence near her house. I really miss those days.

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes, I'm so excited to find this blog; I grew up in Texas Hill Country but have since relocated. I'm having a fierce chicken fried steak craving today. Way back in the day, my dad used to take me to the Hill Country Cupboard in Johnson City. I haven't been back there in over 10 years, so thanks for the reminder of home!

ETK said...

THANK YOU! As a transplanted Texan, I have often dreamed of my mom's CFS (too many people try to add crazy spices!) and this sounds perfect. My husband is going to make it tonight! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is my recipe for chicken fry as well... except I invariably use buttermilk (thicker coating) and seasoned salt. I may be able to bring myself to fry it in lard one day...

My required sides are mashed potatoes with (cream) gravy and green beans. Biscuits of course are wonderful but I rarely have the fortitude to make all of this in one stop.

My father insists that the correct sides are french fries (real) and a green salad. This I just do not understand.

Alexis in Austin

Monty Guitar Tyler said...

Being from Texas I can totally understand being in love with a chicken fried steak. I love to make these at home. I saw a new recipe last week and tried it. I have to tell you that it was one of the best I've ever had. Instead of using cooking oil, try using clarified butter. I'm still dreaming about this meal.

The Dean is in said...

This Okie love chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and white/cream gravy. I have dredged it both ways and, I have learned to season my egg dredge as well as my flour.

Nothing like good ole home cooked comfort food.

Anonymous said...

Just made this today for the first time...yummy..what a great recipe. Thank you.

Notorious P.A.T. said...

Chicken Fried Steak is the ultimate comfort food. I had never tried it until a trip to Houston six years ago. It instantly became my favorite food. It was served as a special in the cafeteria of the company I worked for at the time. It came with "smashed" potatoes, blackeyed peas and was smothered in country gravy.

I am no longer afraid to die, as I now know what heaven tastes like.

Peace

Alfonso Cevola said...

Mary's story here http://bit.ly/10zN1O

Morta Di Fame said...

Love this. Had a bite of my friends at Roebling Tea Room in Williamsburg. It was awesome!!! Then tried it myself at Lodge - not so good. Thanks for the recipe. Will try on my own!

Emily said...

Is this heresy? I always thought milk gravy was the only way, but I ordered the chicken fried steak at Oscar Blue's in Lyons, CO once (my mom used to live there), and it came with a brown onion gravy. Now, I thought this was an affront to good taste at first, but it was pretty darned good. Crap, it was also called Country Fried Steak, now that I think about it (although that is certainly not how I ordered it). And I definitely ordered it a few more times, and enjoyed it (food's good at OB's if you're ever on the way from Denver/Boulder up to Estes Park).

Oh, man. I'm going to hell for liking that, aren't I? Dang.

Jen said...

I just wanted to tell you, I've had your recipe bookmarked for quite some time and finally had a chance to make it tonight - absolutely amazing. The best chicken fried steak I ever had was in Sonoma, Texas - such a small town, but we wanted anything but Sonic and ended up at a steak house by the freeway. This recipe is a fantastic rival for that wonderful meal. Made the gravy too - *so* good! Thank you for sharing!

Chris said...

I just found this website this morning, but I had to comment on this because this was almost exactly the same way my mother taught me how to make chicken fried steak. I'm looking at some of your other recipes, they'll come in handy this fall in college.

Michelle said...

I just want to thank you for this recipe. As a homesick Texan myself in far flung Japan - I have been missing this staple of the Texan diet for quite some time now. Can't wait to try it (if I can find the right meat..silly island!)

leah said...

Grazie from Roma fellow Texan!:) i found your site while looking for a chicken-fried steak recipe online & boy am i glad i found it! i've been living in rome the last 2 years & before that, wandering around the world for 5 years or so (originally from austin, TX) & though i adore sampling the local cuisine &, it's true: italian pasta/pizza IS to die for, sometimes a gal needs her chicken fried steak! & don't even get me started on tex-mex (i had withdrawal symptoms for the first year...ha ha). you have a wonderful way with words, photos &, obviously, food. i've bookmarked your site & plan on coming back often. after all, it's definitely much better than bugging my poor mom for loved texan recipes that i've long forgotten.. ;) thx for your contribution to the web! :) leah (roma, by way of austin, TX)

Gary D. said...

Just found this article, but have been a fan of your blog for the past year.


My family, originally from El Paso, uses cornflakes roughly crushed in a plastic bag as the outer coating. It's divine and super crispy.

I would make this today, but I fear my tiny financial district apartment would be covered in grease.

Anonymous said...

You're blog has made me very happy and hungry since I found it yesterday; but I wanted to let you know that (although, I am sure it won't be as tasty as your homemade or Texas counterparts) you can certainly find good ol' chicken fried steak at damn near any truck-stop diner.

Texan Native said...

Yankes wouldnt know what Texas food is--Only Real Texans do.
Even Californians I know adore Texas food!

Paul Martinez said...

Just had to say - I'm a homesick Texan in Georgia and chicken fried steak is one of my girlfriend's favorite things for me to make. However, she constantly refers to it as COUNTRY fried steak. Poor non-Texans - they just don't get it.

Cindy Swanson said...

Greetings from another homesick Texan! Most of my family lives in the Austin area, while I live near Chicago.

My mom makes the best chicken fried steak ever, in my book, but her "recipe" (not that she ever wrote it down) sounds much like your dad's.

Virginia said...

I found this blog by shear luck. Now I am hooked. I'm not a homesick Texan, I've only spent 1 week in Texas in my entire life. I'm from Maine, way up (downeast) the coast. I am so excited by this blog (I don't do blogs or RSS feeds) or didn't until now. The Texas fried steak is a must for my husband this week and I can't wait to try the Texas Cream Gravy (it looks like what my mom used to make). ALso up to 'flaming cheese' and lots of other recipes. Love the stories with the food also. Thank you so much.
Virginia

Amy said...

I don't know if anyone mentioned this earlier, but I don't have the patience to read through all those comments. That restaurant in Chicago you mentioned, I have a sneaking suspicion that it's the Dixie Kitchen which has since relocated from the Hyde Park neighborhood to Evanston. Fantastic place. Fabulous recipie too, by the way.

HZ in DF said...

I used your recipe last Saturday in honor of the dear old Alamo and it turned out great. Since I'm in Mexico, I bought milanesa and therefore did not have to pound the steak. I also did not make cream gravy because I have never been a fan of it in spite of being a 3rd generation Texan. Just weird that way, I guess. Washed it down with a Mexican beer called Victoria - kinda ironic given the historical event I was celebrating ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm a Texan through-and-through and this is basically the chicken fried steak recipe I've used all my cooking life.

Just one comment on preparation... To avoid a mess when tenderizing (poounding) the steak, placing plastic wrap like Saran Wrap on top of the steaks will prevent splatter. It will make the tenderizing process much more user friendly. Hope this helps, so enjoy a great Texas cuisine.

Mike said...

I just made this (in japan!) and it's amazing. I have one issue: the recipe above says

"When a drop of water makes the oil sizzle, it's ready for frying."

Although water in hot oil is against my better judgement, i gave it just a drop to check before adding the steaks, but the pan of oil nearly exploded upon contact with the steak! oil went flying everywhere. Very scary and dangerous!

I would advise future cooks to test the oil temp with a breadcrumb as per usual rather than using water.

Douglas said...

Well Homesick,

I'm now officially full of it. Just like my momma used to make and my granny before her.

Had it with smashed taters, purple hull peas, Texas Toast and sweet iced tea.

I'm stuffed and my belly is happy.

Kindest regards,
Douglas

Anonymous said...

Dearest Homesick Texan,

I have made your Chicken Fried Steak recipe tonight & it was super-duper good. I've never been good with red meat- I always seem to either over cook it or under cook it. But, I diligently followed your instructions and BAM! It came out perfectly. Thanks again for another winning recipe.

My family especially thanks you!!

Happy Blogging!!!

-Judy in the Big D

P.S. The last comment on your gravy post was mine.. I forgot to leave my name--OOPS!

Anonymous said...

I have recently started using Japanese Panko bread crumbs to coat my chicken-fried steak after dipping in egg...I'm sure all Texans are going to be horrified, but it gives the steak a really nice crunch.

Mr. Flanagan said...

I used to live in Austin, and you can get a decent CFS at Hutts in downtown, but if I really wanted to bust my gut and go to heaven, I would head up to Johnson City and Hill Country Cupboard. Man, that's the REAL DEAL. Real mashed potatoes, real gravy (white, not brown or grey), and real ice-cold beer--ice cold! Finally, lots of red neck trucks out front, but don't you worry none, lots of Latinos each in here-- no racist problems. I love this place, and dream about the CFS all the time. I grew up in Connecticut, and there is NOTHING in New England that tastes as good. Nothing. Happy Trails. Oh--in a real Texas dive, you don't have to ask for extra gravy; your food comes swimming in it!

Frank :)

loreece said...

Made this tonight and it was wonderful! Enjoyed every bite and so did the rest of my family. I made my mom's gravy to go with it. Her recipe is so simple to make, 6 tablespoons grease/oil, 6 tablespoons flour, brown the 6 tablespoons flour in the grease/oil you saved from your chicken fried steak, use a whisk to stir constantly as your adding the flour a little at a time. After your roux is made, add 2-2 1/2 cups milk, stir constantly with the whisk on medium heat for about 4 minutes, until your gravy thickens and is bubbly. Your done! If gravy seems a little to thick, add more milk as needed to desired consistency. I use to cook with Crisco, but now use only Canola oil. The chicken fried steak cooked great in my cast iron skillet in the canola oil and the oil made a wonderful gravy.

Thanks again for a great recipe!
From west Texas

Anonymous said...

Just found your "Texas Chicken Fried Steak" recipe, and thought back to my childhood. I'm from Atlanta, south side Atlanta if you care, and we called it "country fried steak". You appear to have used a tenderizing mallet of some type - we couldn't afford any specialized tenderizing utensil so we used the small open end of a Coke bottle. It's the perfect shape to grip, it's readily available, and it works great. I fondly recall those small flecks of meat, flour, and salt&pepper scattering out over the counter. It then had to simmer in a pot for a hour or more - I'm talking tough meat here! - but was it ever good. As a small child, 50+ years ago, I watched with wide-open eyes knowing a great dinner was on the way. I think that tomorrow I'm gonna go down and buy some chea[p cow and whip up a batch of that.

Thanks for the memory.

Kenneth said...

Thanks for this excellent blog on Chicken Fried Steak. I first heard it mentioned in Larry McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show" when I read it years and years ago. Now, finally this poor, deprived Australian is about to road-trip through Texas and sample this fare.

All the best.

Ken

Sylvia said...

I use crumbled Ritz crackers instead of flour and the crust on the chicken fried steak is just wonderful.

Alisha Clayson said...

Thank you so much for researching all these recipes and then giving us the final results! It saves me so much time. And as a born & raised Texan, there is nothing like award winning Chicken Fried Steak. Thank you for this & so many other yummy recipes. I know what I'm cooking today! :)

Stefanie said...

I have been craving chicken fried steak, and plan on trying this tonight! I miss the restaurant we used to go to in Houston, so hopefully this can replace the steak from there :) Your pics and the gravy look delicious.

Deborah said...

I just discovered you blog today, but I'm delighted. Not even raised in the US, but biologically half American. From where I (yet) don't know, but I don't think Texas, but never the less, I stumbled over this one.

In Denmark, where I live and have been raised, we have the exsact same dish only called "Wiener Schnitzel" and made from Veal. The gravy you decribe we also have here, but the Schnitzel is served with a brown gravy. It's made the same way but darkend with gravy browning. I'm going to try your recepie.

Diana Lee said...

Your recipe is phenomenal. Chicken Fried Steak is one of my favorite recipes from childhood, but it always seems more complicated than it actually is. Made this tonight and loved it. Thanks for sharing!

RobH said...

nice to see a texas delicacy addressed properly. Being a chicken friend steak snob, I
believe you have the process down pat. One word of caution I would pass along to others not familiar with just what to look for in an authentic CFS is that you should probably assume that what you get in a restaurant is going to NOT be the real deal...i.e. it is most likely going to be wet battered and deep fried (blasphemous at best!!) you should queery the waitperson when ordering as the recipie and process here is how you should qualify what you're getting. I have had some decent deep fried "CFS", but it's not what I order if I'm craving real, fulfilling CFS. My grandmother didn't even own a deep fryer to my knowledge. Once you eat it done this way along with cream gravy as also described here(darkened roux is key) you will never accept neither the frozen nor the deep fried poor facsimiles out there.

Kim said...

I just made this with venison for my four kids.. the Man is working late. He's coming home to a real husband pleaser.It is such a rich and home-style meal I was a little emotional cooking and serving it. I DO NOT COOK and this turned out fantastic. The gravy.. oh Lord the gravy. SO right. Thank you for your guidance. This made me feel like the wife and mom of the year.

Cal said...

So...This is the first time I've been on your blog and so happy I found it. I'm an Texas native, born and raised and my husband and I just moved to Poland, yes Poland. Little to say I feel like a fish out of water. I am a down home Texas girl and have a special place for chicken fried steak. My granny, who passed away about 3 years ago, made the best chicken fried steak in the world. I hate when people have bad thoughts or symbols of this beloved dish because my granny's was so good and tender that you could even eat it cold with some cold gravy too. I miss it so much made especially by her. Reading your post made me think of her and the times I would sit there at the stove and help her and get back because she said your going to splattered (with the hot oil of course). Your dad's CFS sounds just like my granny's and I love it! Another tip that might help or at least my granny swore by was picking out good meat. We would look for the right meat every Sunday at the grocery store and then save for that family dinner night. Look for pieces with as little as possible white specs or gristle in the meat, this is what makes a lot Diners not very good. Loved reading...made me sentimental and happy, and of course miss Texas.

Anonymous said...

use to be a place in fort worth called masseys best cfs around now its paris coffee shop in fort worth tx

Anonymous said...

My bofriend from Minisotta said he never liked anyone's chicken fried steak so I used this recipe and boy was he impressed with this Texas girl.

Anonymous said...

I grew up on chicken fried steak and make it for my family. In fact, I made it a couple days ago. DH says he likes mine better than anyone else's. I found your site through the biscuit pudding recipe. Several times my mother has mentioned a bread pudding her grandmother used to make with biscuits. No one seems to have gotten the recipe from her, so I'm going to try duplicating it the best I can. Anyway, I saw the chicken fried steak link and clicked on it out of curiosity. Mine is almost identical to yours, including the dry-wet-dry. I buy pre-tenderized round steak or have the butcher tenderize the steak for me. It saves me time and some mess. For the gravy I mix the seasoned dipping flour with the dipping milk and pour it into the same pan used for the meat, after pouring some of the oil out. This meal is one of my rare carb splurges since I am controlling diabetes with diet only. I now skip the Texas toast and french fries or mashed potatoes I used to enjoy with it.
I have lived in Texas my entire life and this post is the first time I ever heard it referred to as cfs. This term is either a relatively new term or it may be a regional thing.
About the discussion of it being hard to get real chicken fried steak outside of Texas, even in Texas some restaurants don't serve the real thing. I've had it served with yellowish cornstarch based gravy instead of cream gravy. I've also been served hamburger steak. The place that had some of the best restaurant chicken fried steak I've eaten closed down years ago. They also had a great hickory burger. I love hickory, but mesquite is most common where I live.
Someone mentioned Monterrey House on your tortilla post. I have fond memories of that restaurant. We ate there many time when I was a child, it closed before I was in high school.My 2 favorite things there was the guacamole, which used to be my meal until the quantity went down and price went up, and the little piece of after dinner candy they served.

Novelismo said...

Lisa, thanks very much for this. As to the color of the Cream Gravy, it depends on the color of the roux, which need not be "dark." Light blonde roux (the pre-stage) will yield a cream-colored gravy. Roux keeps pretty well in a covered container, and there's no good reason not to make it up a cup or so at a time. roux improves slightly in quality if you make it ahead enough to let it set overnight.

Novelismo said...

Now, when I was living at the top of Clinton Hill in Brooklyn during the middle 90s, there was a great butcher shop, Tom's -- where they were still hanging sides ... just up the hill from the Spike Lee Store ... might be gone now.

DKurth said...

CFS--Heaven, Better, Chicken Fried Venison, any variety, whitetail, or even better, axis (even better. Do not use the backstrap--heaven forbid your cook those precious morsels to death. Use the front or rear quarters and cut steaks. Pound them thin, soak them in buttermilk, season with salt, chile pwd, garlic and blk pepper, dredge and fry in shallow pan. Cover with chile colorado infused cream gravy--Thank you Saint Peter!

Noz said...

Hello, from London. This cut of steak, top round does not really exist in England. I was wondering what I could use as an alternative?

I was thinking of something that fried quick, with a decent fat content like sirloin perhaps?

Do you have a recommendation please?

Thanks!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Noz--Topside is the same as top round, I believe. It may also be called cube steak. If you can't find that, you could use sirloin.

Noz said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks, you are right, I compared them on this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef#UK_primal_cuts

and it appears that topside is the same. Thanks for the guidance, I'll let you know how it goes!

Veronica said...

I can't wait to try your recipe. I had an amazing one in Marfa last weekend but can't find a decent chicken fried steak in El Paso. I love your blog! Just found it today!

Anonymous said...

So glad I found this site! I miss Texas so - have lived now in MA for 20 yrs, but Texas is my first love. You are so right - when I was moving here the farther east I went, the browner the gravy on the chicken fried steak. No one makes better CFS than a true Texan. People up here always ask me why I make "white" gravy - they don't know what they are missing! My daughter loves my chicken fried steak and gravy (and I make red skinned garlic mashed potatoes to accompany it!) - Sherri from Ft. Worth

Anonymous said...

As a transplanted Okie-Tex mix Yankee, after I beat the steak, I massage both sides in "Frenchs" regular mustard and let marinade over night (covered) in the frig. I then use a mix of egg yolks and half & half as the "wash" first, the dip in flour and rewash and another dusting of flour before frying in 1 1/2 oil at 275 %F Oil. The mustard gives a slightly sharp flavor and the extra flour coat gives an extra crispy coating.
Just another variation on the best food group anywhere on Earth. // elenor49@verizon.net

Shannon McRee said...

I'm an old Oklahoma construction hand from little Dixie and I have also found there is no good Chicken Fried Steak outside Texas and Oklahoma. I worked with a guy who had just worked a job in upstate NY told me he stopped in a café, waitress asked what everbody wanted, he told her what he wanted was chicken fried steak, she told him "We have steak, and we have chicken, make up your mind!" and flounced off to another table. That wouldn't have happened anywhere in the Hill Country. I guess it's good he didn't ask for fried okra or Hopping John!

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