This was not restaurant style chicken fried steak with the thick, crunchy exterior and white cream gravy. This chicken fried steak had a thinner crust and the gravy was not the thick white kind with specks of peppercorns that I am used to. The gravy I made has a thinner consistency and a darker caramel color with specks of thyme. So, this is not exactly what you get when you order chicken fried steak at Lone Star Cafe like I remember getting as a kid. I remember it looking something like this.I always ordered the kids meal version, or a half order, but it always came out looking huge and daunting. Somehow I managed to scarf down every bit along with the buttery Texas toast which I used to sop up the extra gravy. Oh man. Those were good times.
This chicken fried steak is a bit different. It is homemade. It is comforting. And it is delicious. I got the recipe from a woman I met here in Amarillo. She grew up here and remembers having this at least once a week if not more often when she was a kid.
This is beef country, people. A great deal of the economy depends on it. I wake up on many mornings and can smell the feed lots when I let the dog out. My grandpa Marvin appropriately calls it the “money smell”. Texans love their beef, but Amarillo-ans LOVE their beef. This may be a stereotype, but it’s a stereotype that is true and in no way negative. Beef is good, and so is chicken fried steak.
The gravy recipe is not all hers, she admits. She once watched an Alton Brown show where he added fresh thyme to the gravy. Intrigued, she used it the next time she made her gravy and hasn’t gone back since. You can’t help but love Alton Brown. He stays true to what a dish originally was and only adds to it if it really and truly makes it better. You wouldn’t catch him adding something weird like lavender to a chicken fried steak gravy, but I am sure some ridiculous chef out there has.
Cheryl wasn’t very specific in her measurements, but I think it all turned out OK. I am a big fan of recipe following, so the term “some flour” kinda freaks me out. But really when you think about it, the ingredients in chicken fried steak are simple and do not require a lot of measuring. If it sticks to the steak, then that’s how much you need. If there are naked spots, then you need more. Pretty easy.
I served this with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. A few slices of buttered Texas toast would have been a good idea, but I was not quite on top of things enough to get Texas toast when I was at the grocery store.
Here is Cheryl’s recipe for the steaks and Alton Brown’s Gravy.
Cheryl’s Chicken Fried Steak
- 4 pieces of tenderized round steak, pounded thin
- 2 cups flour
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2-3 eggs, beaten
- vegetable oil
- Whisk the flour, salt and pepper in a large, wide dish.
- Whisk the eggs in a seperate large wide dish.
- Dredge steaks in flour, then eggs, then flour once more.
- Let the steaks sit for a few minutes while you heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Cook steaks in oil for about 5 minutes, flip and cook for about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and keep warm in a 200° oven while you cook the remaining steaks.
Alton’s Creamy Gravy
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- After cooking the steaks, heat the remaining cooking oil and tasty bits left over medium heat.
- Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the flour left over from the dredging.
- Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan.
- Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken.
- Add the milk and thyme and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. S
- eason to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.