What is chicken fried steak? It may not contain chicken but it does contain plenty of flavor! Find out more...
With a name like 'chicken fried steak', you'd be forgiven for thinking this Southern favorite contains at least a little bit of chicken! But no - this decadent dish is steak through and through, but fried just like chicken with a delicious, crispy coating.
It's then topped with gravy and served as a main meal with potatoes and vegetables, or used to make a yummy sandwich.
Chicken fried steak is very similar to Austrian 'wiener schnitzel'. In fact, it's believed that the dish has its origins in the wiener schnitzel recipes brought to Texas in the 19th century by German and Austrian immigrants.
Lamesa on the Texas South Plains is the self-professed birthplace of the chicken fried steak - it even holds an annual celebration to mark the fact!
What kind of meat is used in chicken fried steak?
Cube steak is the usual choice, which gets its name from the cube-shaped indentations left on it by the machine that tenderizes it.
It's a somewhat cheaper cut of meat, containing very little fat or marbling. What it lacks in taste and texture is then more than compensated for by the tasty batter and creamy gravy!
You can use other cuts of meat to make chicken fried steak, including chuck, round steak or even flank. The best option is to pound them thin with a tenderizing mallet - this will help them cook quickly and prevent them from being chewy.
The meat is coated in seasoned all-purpose or gluten-free flour, dipped in egg and milk, then back in the flour. Once it's properly covered, it's fried until wonderfully crispy.
Some recipes call for deep frying, whereas others suggest using a skillet - either way works! And whilst shortening is the more traditional frying medium, health concerns mean you'll more often see vegetable oil used in recipes.
Is chicken fried steak the same as country fried steak?
The names are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not quite the same thing!
Chicken fried steak tends to be crispier - in fact, some people will serve the gravy separately, to preserve the crispiness of the skin. Country fried steak is all about the gravy - the meat is fully covered and softens the batter quite a bit.
The gravy is different too - chicken fried steak is generally served with a creamy, peppery gravy, whereas the gravy for country fried steak is brown.
How to serve chicken fried steak
If you just can't get enough of its crispy goodness, why not do what they do in the Midwest and serve it for breakfast too, along with toast and hash browns? We can't think of a better way to start to the day!