Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy
I don’t have a Southern bone in my body, but I’m deeply attracted to the food of the South, which is all about cooking from the soul. Chicken-fried steak may not be chicken, but it is certainly steak, and it’s most certainly fried, though shallow-fried. The steaks get smothered in a creamy white gravy made with the scrapings left in the pan. Smoky, buttery, sweet, and salty flavors are the name of the game. It’s rich and fattening, literally not for the faint of heart. Serve with Candied Sweet Potatoes and Collard Greens with Ham and Bacon.
- 2 pounds sirloin tip roast, cut into 6 3/4-inch-thick steaks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup buttermilk, well shaken
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 3 cups milk
- Place steaks on a clean work surface and pound both sides to 1/4-inch thickness with the tenderizing side of a meat mallet. Season steaks with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Combine 1 cup flour and cayenne pepper in a wide, shallow dredging bowl and pour buttermilk into another dredging bowl. Coat steaks in flour, then buttermilk, and again in the flour. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack and let stand 20 minutes.
- Pour oil to 1/8-inch depth into a large cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, fry the steaks in two batches, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Carefully pour all but 2 tablespoons of fat from skillet and return skillet to heat. Whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons flour, cooking until bubbly and golden, 1 minute. Whisk in milk and season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil, whisking constantly, until gravy thickens slightly, 1 minute. Transfer to a gravy boat or small pitcher and serve immediately poured over steaks.
Tenderizing Meat: A sirloin tip roast and other less expensive yet flavorful cuts of meat require tenderizing, which can be achieved by marinating, pounding with a meat mallet, or both. When you pound the meat with a mallet, start in the middle and pound out to the edges to break down the tendons and thin the meat, which also shortens the cooking process.