Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chicken Fried Steak

I want to dedicate this latest entry to my father-in-law, Jimmy McLoughlin back in Northern Ireland, who commented after eating this dish at a Southern restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee that it was the best thing he had ever eaten! A true Ulster man…he loves fried food, as do Southerners of course! He will be visiting us in Atlanta this November from Ireland and I hope he will be glad to hear that I have finally nailed this dish and am ready to make his day.

So, here I go…Chicken Fried Steak, which ironically has no chicken in sight, but instead is fried just like chicken...get it? Actually, a better description would be” Buttermilk soaked steak fried with a crispy breading served with rich brown gravy garnished with thick country bacon and a sprig of thyme” whew!...but that doesn’t sound as good, does it?

Ahh, fried food…there is just something about fried food that brings such comfort to the Irish as reminiscent of those times our mothers brought out the pan to make us an ‘Ulster Fry’. The bringing out of the pan for an Irish Fried breakfast is the ultimate coming together and sure way of having everyone around the table.
In the South we find the same cravings for comfort but this time with this tasty beef entrée. Makes me wonder about its origins? Such a dish could have been invented in the heart of an early settler in those pioneer days. Of course I would want to claim it as Irish, but even if I cannot prove any Irish origins of Southern Chicken Fried Steak I have still to meet an Ulster man who did not lick his lips at this dish.

Now, be warned…the kitchen will be a mess, hot splashing fat and dripping batter, but just watch the joy in your families’ faces it is served before them. Some things are worth a little sacrifice! Hope you give it a go!

(Serves 4)

1 ½-2 Lbs top round steak (cut in to 4)
1 cup all purpose flour (plus 3 Tbsp)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs plus 1 Tbsp water (beaten)
2 cups buttermilk (soak)
4 slices of thick style bacon
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 ¼- 1/2 pints (2 ½- 3 cups) chicken stock
1 tsp thyme (chopped) (plus 4 sprigs for garnish)



Cut top steak in to 4 large pieces. Use a meat tenderizer to pound steak in between two pieces of plastic wrap to ¼’ thick.

Season steak with salt and pepper. Soak meat in buttermilk for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Organize flour and a little more salt and pepper in shallow bowl. Whisk eggs and water together and place in another shallow dish. Remove steak from buttermilk soap and dip in the seasoned flour, then egg mixture and finish with a final coat of flour.

Fry bacon in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add steak in small batches to hot bacon fat and cook for 3-5 minutes until crust is golden brown. Pan should be medium-high and meat sizzle and spit. Turn over steak and cook for a further 3 minutes on other side until juices run clear. Remove from skillet and place on a platter lined with paper towels.

Sautee the onion in pan until soft and translucent. Add 3 Tbsp flour and cook while stirring with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Slowly add chicken stock and thyme. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

To make a smooth gravy process sauce with a hand blender and strain.

Plate green beans, mashed potatoes and set steak on top. Drizzle gravy over meat and around plate. Garnish with a piece of bacon and sprig of thyme.

Enjoy y'all!