So, back to dinner. I have a copy of Ree's cookbook and love it. The photography in it is just gorgeous and the recipes are wonderful. Simple down-home ingredients she whips up into hearty meals. While flipping through the cookbook last week I saw the recipe for Chicken Fried Steak and decided to give it a try. When we were growing up, Mom used to make cube steaks for dinner from time to time. No breading, just plain fried cube steaks. I always had mine with lots of ketchup. :) Guess the whole "chicken fried" thing is a southern way of doing cube steaks. I certainly never heard of it till I moved to Virginia. Then I married a southern boy and had to learn the southern way of cooking. Pancakes cooked in bacon grease. Scrambled eggs with cheese. Grits. (Which to me are(is?) like Cream of Wheat and I make my in-laws shudder because I eat them(it?) with sugar and milk!) (Damn Yankee! Hehehe) Where was I? Oh yeah, cooking southern food...Biscuits with every meal. Ice Tea with every meal, summer or winter. Squirrel for breakfast. Yes. Really. Once. His Mom made it for us. For Breakfast. Enough said.
Anyway, back to my southern hubby. Chicken Fried Steak is right up his alley. Fry meat after dipping it in egg and flour, cover it with gravy you make with the residue from frying said meat, and, you have one happy redneck. Hey, that's what he calls himself. Don't shoot the messenger!
I served this with mashed potatoes, which I also covered with the gravy, and green beans cooked with bacon and herb seasonings. To say that my hubby was happy with dinner would be an understatement. He loved it! Cleaned the plate and informed me that he would rather have "that kind of gravy" over brown gravy any day. And, "boy, that was delicious". And, "was there any of that left"? And, while I was cleaning up the table? He was over at the stove, with a spoon, "helping" me clean up the pan I cooked the steaks in. :D Recommendations don't get much better than that in this house.
I am going to list the ingredients that Ree uses in her recipe. I cut back on the amount since it is just the hubby and I. I am also going to stream-line the instructions from how they are written in the book. I love Ree's style...I just don't want to type it all. :)
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, pages 142-145
3 pounds cube steak
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk, plus 2 cups for the gravy
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1/3 cup for the gravy
2 teaspoons seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you can handle it)
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
3 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil for frying
Mix the flour, seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper together in a shallow plate. Mix the eggs with 1 cup of the milk in another shallow dish. Have a third empty dish close by. Lightly season the meat with salt and pepper. Dip each piece into the egg/milk mixture, then into the flour mixture. Now, dip the flour covered meat back into the egg mixture and then one more time into the flour mixture. Place the double dipped meat onto the empty plate.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. (A few sprinkles of flour will sizzle in the oil when it is hot enough) Fry the meat, several pieces at a time. Cook on one side until the edges start to look golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip the meat and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes on the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm until all the meat has been cooked.
After frying all the meat, pour off all the grease into a heat-proof bowl. Do not clean the pan! Return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the grease back to the pan. Allow the grease to heat up. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with grease, creating a paste. When the flour becomes golden brown, while whisking constantly, pour in two cups of milk. Whisk to combine, then let the gravy come to a slow boil. Add more milk if the gravy becomes too thick, whisking it into the flour/gravy. The whole process should be between 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the warm meat on a plate with a heaping pile of mashed potatoes. Drizzle with a little (or a lot!) of the gravy. Ree says "Serve this to a hungry cowboy and you'll earn a friend for life".