Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Texas Treat: Chicken Fried Steak Sliders

Even though I made these Chicken Fried Steak Sliders on whole wheat buns, I'm not even going to pretend this is a good-for-you dinner because it is bad, bad, bad. Just look at the photo, it's all brown! I'm a fan of color in my meals. What I do love about this meal/snack/appetizer/party food (whatever you want to call it), it tasted GREAT!

Knowing how to make a proper chicken fried steak in the south is like earning your southern woman badge. I've made chicken fried chicken before (ever made Chicken Parmesan?) but it's not the same thing, and neither is calling it Country Fried Steak...In Texas, it's Chicken Fried Steak (CFS). In the Lone Star Sate, we serve CFS with mashed potatoes and a tasty cream gravy poured over the top. I suspect all Texans have their favorite way to prepare CFS, but I really didn't eat it that much growing up. I've seen it served in plenty of restaurants and have sampled enough of it to know what my personal preferences are though. It took me some time to dig through various recipes until I found one that would work for me. I loved reading Homesick Texan tell her story and some history of CFS. I finally found the recipe I chose to follow on of all places.

I think Mark puts the recipe perfectly here: "It’s basically a cheap cut of beef (such as a bottom round or cube steak) that you beat the living daylights out of. Then it’s dredged in buttermilk, egg, and seasoned flour before being deep fried until golden and crisp on both sides. The chicken fried steak alone would make for a cardiologists nightmare, but then it’s drown in a cream based gravy. I’ve tried to reduce the heart attack quotient a little by shallow frying in vegetable oil (instead of lard) and by making the gravy with milk instead of cream, but I won’t lie to you, there’s not much you can do to make this “healthy” without stealing from the soul of this dish." -Mark,

I started with a cup of flour in a shallow bowl and added 1 T salt, 1 t black pepper, 1 t onion powder, 1/2 t hot paprika, 1/2 t baking powder, 1/4 t cayenne pepper. Mix with a fork or your hands.

I like using cube steak because it's an inexpensive cut of beef and this round steak has been extra-tenderized.
I used the Saltgrass Seven Steak spice to season the meat, the rest of these were added to the flour.

I cut the cube steak into fourths to fit my slider buns, then dredged in the seasoned flour.
Next, dredged in the beaten egg (which I also seasoned with 1/2 T Saltgrass Seven Steak spice).
Lastly, dredge one again in the seasoned flour.
All prepped and ready to go.
In my heavy iron skillet I added about 1/4" of vegetable oil and set heat to medium. When the oil hits 375 degrees it's ready. Add the steak and let them sizzle without disturbing them until the edges get brown. Carefully flip and let the other side brown. When they are golden on both sides, transfer to a wire rack in the oven (set to 200 degrees) to keep them warm.
I took a package of whole wheat rolls, split them in half, and put them in the oven to toast up a bit. You could also pop these in a toaster oven, or face down on a skillet to crisp up the rolls.
The step that just can't be skipped (in my opinion) is the cream gravy. I have to admit I had a lot of "misses" when I first started making cream gravy a few years ago - it's a skill that I think you learn by trial and error. I started with 2 T oil in my iron skillet (drained off the leftover oil from frying the steak and left roughly 2 T) then sprinkled in 2 T of leftover flour (that was already seasoned when I used it to dredge the steak) and with a whisk I move the flour and oil around and let it bubble and brown. Next you add milk (or cream) and I can't tell you the exact point to add milk - but if you do this enough times you learn the look and feel of the flour. You don't want the flour to burn, but you do want it to cook and get a little crumbly - then you add the milk a little at a time and whisk whisk whisk to make sure it doesn't clump. You stand there with your whisk watching it and stirring and let it bubble and add more milk to thin it out. I added a cup of water with a beef bouillon cube it (just for the boost of flavor) and watched it and tasted it until it was perfect. Turn heat to low or off, and be aware that as the gravy cools it will thicken up, so the consistency you are going for is a little runny.
The last step is to assemble our little chicken fried steak sliders. I put a small spoonful of gravy on the buns and sandwiched the chicken fried steak right in the middle. Jim couldn't get over how awesome these were, I couldn't get over what an unhealthy treat I had made for us. But that's what it was - a treat, an experiment with Chicken Fried Steak served on a cute little whole wheat bun. These were fun to make and a very tasty Texas treat.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you used whole-wheat buns!

    Not good for you... but so good!


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