- I took a step back from my usual British cuisine and tried the classic American Chicken Fried Steak.
- The most difficult task was to use the non-metric measurement system and choose the best steak cut.
- The dish was fine, although more spices could be used and I was not impressed with the “gravy”.
Some things in life mean very little to me, including why anyone would want to deep fry an absolutely innocent steak.
But it would be nice to review your prejudices, which is why I tried the classic American recipe Chicken Fried Steak (CFS) for fun, which is out of the world of deep frying. Despite its name, the southern recipe does not actually include chicken, although the method of battering and cooking is similar to a deep fried poultry dish.
CFS Beef Steak is a cheap cut that is thinned, coated in a piece of buttermilk, and fried until crispy. It resembles Austrian veneerchnitzel but is made with a hard cut of round steak instead of tender veal and is usually served with creamy white sauce, bacon and mashed potatoes.
Although I had never made it before, I was ready to try this classic American dish and see how it compares to my typical British cuisine.
Sourcing some ingredients was a bit of a challenge.
I consider myself a very experienced home cook, but I never thought of using onion or garlic powder before, the two main ingredients of dried spices.
Fortunately, they were relatively easy to find in large supermarkets and were realized in the context of the dish.
Steak kits in the UK have different names than in the US, so I struggled to find the “round steak” version. After some research, I discovered that these seem to be thicker pieces at the top.
In the UK, you can only buy the top side as a roasting joint kit, and I didn’t need that much – so I searched for a type of stack that looked identical and a packet of beef medallions. But it was wonderful. I diligently googled the “round stack” images. They were also the cheapest cut in the chiller, so I thought they matched the “roundstack” profile well.
Buttermilk was also requested in the recipe which I could not find in any supermarket. I used a tablespoon of lemon juice to make some milk sour. The other ingredients were easy to find because, in the UK, canola and vegetable oil are practically the same thing and the red pepper had a convenient place in the spice corridor.
I had to improve when I prepared and fried the steak
Americans humorously insist on using anything other than the metric system – I, a poor European, want to know what the pound or fluid ounce looks like? I had to legitimately use my ruler to measure the meat when the recipe asked me to make the steak 3 inches thick.
I didn’t have a meat tenderizer so I used a bottle of wine, which worked amazingly well to flatten the steaks.
The next step was to double the meat in buttermilk and baked flour, which was quite easy but against my usual instincts.
At this point, usually after tendering, I dry the stack for a few hours, remove surface moisture, and then add it to the smoking hot pan before reheating the season so that Possibly cracked.
When it came to frying the steak, the recipe called for keeping the oil at 180 degrees Celsius, a non-Fahrenheit measurement that convinced my little metric brain. I don’t have a thermometer so I waited until the oil was hot enough to make a piece of bread brown and crisp after a few seconds as a test.
When the oil was at the right temperature, I added steaks to the batches and after a minute or two they turned a beautiful dark golden color on each side.
The recipe says steaks should be kept hot in the oven when making crispy bacon and sauces, but sadly, this step made the batter a little wet instead of dry and crisp.
If I make it again, I will cook the sauce in a separate pan to make sure everything is ready at the same time.
More than one attempt was made to make white gravy.
I need to take it off my chest: this recipe called “White Gravy” was just a white sauce with a theme. It was delicious but miles away from the gravy in the UK.
The gravy here is brown and contains cooked meat mixed with wine, flour and possibly stock. We offer it with everything, especially in the north of England.
In this recipe, there was a roux with gravy milk and cream, which I found a bit strange because just frying the steak makes the whole dish very full. It could have been done with something more acidic as a lubricant instead of a creamy or fatty thing, but I persevered.
Gravy’s recipe didn’t work for me the first time.
He tried to make gravy using the same pan in which the bacon bits and steaks were cooked but it failed completely. The remaining scraps of oil and bacon did not mix well with the milk and flour, and instead the whole shibang was tossed with the horrible burnt pieces.
It also refused to thicken, so I did what any contestant on “The Great British Baking Show” would do: curse out loud and then start with a new batch of everything, which Then it worked perfectly.
The chicken fried steak was too small and needed acidity.
It was a meal I would never normally cook, but although a new recipe and a new element of food was delicious, I was relatively impressed with the dish myself.
Despite my hammering, the steak was not as soft as I had hoped it would be and I think more spice could be added to the crust.
Serving it with crispy bacon lordens and gravy was never a bad move, but it was calling for something contradictory, so I paired it with an acidic salad that had a lot of lemon juice in the dressing. The salad cut out the filling of the dish quite well but by adding it to my plate, I probably lost the point of eating, which is a classic southern casual meal.
My conclusion is that I should probably visit the United States to try an authentic version made with some famous Southern hospitality, instead of trying to re-cook it in a cold, dark British kitchen in which the company Just my ugly thoughts.