I made “Chicken Fried Steak”, with milk gravy today. Big deal, you say. Well, for me, it was. It was the first time I’ve ever made gravy that didn’t seize up into an inedible mass of flour-y greasy goo. It made me way too happy. Giggly, even. Haha!!
I haven’t made Chicken Fried Steak in 15+ years (and never had the gravy turn out edible). But I’ve made other schnitzels many times, but never the recipe my family made. “Schnitzel?”, you ask. Why, yes, Chicken Fried Steak is just schnitzel.
Schnitzel can be any meat, that is pounded out thin, dipped in flour, dipped in egg, dipped in a breading, and then fried. Pork, chicken, veal, beef, alligator, kangaroo or squirrel, if that’s your thing.
A conversation I had with my ex-mil even before I was married:
Me: “Ah.. you are making chicken schnitzel.”
Me: “Yes, it’s the German word for what you are making. It’s just any meat that’s dipped in eggs, dipped in breading and then fried.”
MIL: (in a very high pitched voice) “I don’t eat German food.”
I think Americans forget that foods we make, foods we love, and foods we grew up with are not always American. Schnitzel being one of them. In New York, we make “chicken cutlets”. Meat, dipped in egg, dipped in seasoned bread crumbs, fried. If I say I’m making “chicken cutlets”, everyone knows what I’m talking about. If I say I’m making “chicken schnitzel”, only Europeans know what I’m talking about.
This recipe is what I grew up eating. Instead of bread crumbs, it uses crushed saltine crackers. My family alsways called this “Chicken Fried Steak”, but it’s also called “Country Fried Steak” as well. I’m sure there are other names out there in the world, too.
Chicken Fried Steak
1/2 a pound cube steak
1/2 cup flour
2 sleeves of crushed saltine crackers (240 grams or 8.5 ounces)
4 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon butter (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dip the cube steak into the flour, removing any excess. Dip into the egg and then lay in the cracker crumbs. Cover the top and press the crumbs onto the steak. Set the pieces to dry for about 10 minutes.
In a large frying pan, add in 4 tablespoons of oil. Add in the tablespoon of butter. Heat to medium-high. Allow the oil to get nicely hot, and add in the steaks. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until the crackers are golden brown. Drain on a rack or paper towels – whichever you have.
If you cannot get cube steak at your market, use a thin piece of steak. Round or London broil sliced lengthwise thin. Pound out to make the pieces very thin. Starting from the outside edge, pound away from the center to get an even piece.
OMG I Can Make Milk Gravy
Gravy is supposed to be simple and easy to make. I can make a pan sauce to die for, but have never succeeded in making milk gravy. Yesterday was a first!! And it really was an “OMG, I can make milk gravy” moment!
2 Tablespoons or so of the drippings
2 Tablespoons of flour
1 Cup milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the pan you used to make the steaks. At medium heat, sprinkle in the flour and whisk quickly. Mix well and continue to whisk for about 1 minute. After the minute is up, add in the milk, continuing to whisk. Allow to cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes, until the gravy begins to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately.