Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My ultimate comfort food- chicken fried steak

The Chef hates making chicken fried steak. He hates cooking it. I, however LOVE the stuff, but I don't like that I have to eat out to get it. So we are going to make it, using the recipe of one of my idols- Mr. Alton Brown. Alton Brown visited Des Moines a while back and sadly, I was unable to go see him, or see him at the many local food hot spots he popped in to. This was such a source of heartbreak for me- the Ultimate Chef Groupie. So many of my girlfriends swoon over their favorite singers and actors and then there is me- the mere sight of a knifebag or chef's jacket and I'm jelly. Some of my luckier friends did get to go see Mr. Brown though, and continue to tease me with pictures of themselves and Alton. I'm so jealous !!

My good friend Paul and Alton
I've been a fan of the Food Network ever since it's been on the air. Many chefs have come and gone over the years but some leave a lasting impact. Sarah Moulton was the first Food Network chef that I seriously began to follow. She was not only a tv chef but also the Executive Chef for Gourmet Magazine. Her show, Cooking Live, had a unique format in that viewers could call in live on the air and ask questions. It was great and I learned a ton from her. Ming Tsai and his East Meets West was also a big favorite of mine. Mario Batali, Ina Garten, and before long, Alton Brown became, to me, sort of a culinary instructor. Alton's show Good Eats educated the viewers in such a fun way, always entertaining. 

But let's get back to chicken fried steak. Almost always the steak and mashed potatoes are covered with tons of white gravy. I might be a super fan of chicken fried steak, but I am not a fan of white gravy. This is where Alton Brown's version comes in. After the steaks are cooked the gravy is made in the same pan, but with chicken broth and a LITTLE milk for richness- this unique version is going to make me very happy. 

I did have to make a few adjustments to the recipe. I was not able to get 2 pounds of bottom round so I had to substitute cubed steaks, and got 4 portions. This isn't a huge deal, but it changes the recipe slightly, as Alton dredges, tenderizes, dredges again and continues. My steak is already tenderized. I also will be using turkey broth instead, because, well, I have a ton of it canned from the Thanksgiving Day turkey frame. It will be just as delicious. 

Alton Brown's Chicken Fried Steak

2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2 inch thick slices. Season each piece on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Place the eggs into a separate pie pan. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour. Tenderize the meat, using a needling device, until each slice is 1/4 inch thick, Once tenderized, dredge the meat again in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch slope-sided skillet and set over medium high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a wire rack set in a half sheet pan and place into oven. Repeat until all meat is browned.

Add the remaining vegetable oil, or at least 1 tablespoon, to the pan. 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. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

NOTE: This recipe is property of Alton Brown and Food Network. You can see Alton's original recipe by clicking HERE.

Ok, so here is the breakdown of how I did it. As I said, I was only able to get steak that has already been through the tenderizer, so after the first dredge I just lightly finger-tapped the flour into the meat, and continuing from there.

I used the cast iron skillet to make this so I got a nice evenly hot oil.

Funny thing about cast iron on a black glass-top stove- it
looks like I'm cooking in an invisible skillet.
I swapped turkey broth for the chicken broth and it was just as delicious. Instead of whole milk I used half and half so the gravy was super luscious and rich, but nothing at all like gloppy white gravy.

I asked The Chef to give me a hand in the kitchen, since he makes awesome homemade mashed potatoes, and served good old American green beans on the side. Filling, comforting and without a doubt the BEST version of chicken fried steak I have ever had. With Alton's help I just may master gravy yet!


  1. What a DELICIOUS looking dinner! Now THAT is COMFORT FOOD!

  2. What a DELICIOUS looking dinner! Now THAT is COMFORT FOOD!