Southern Steak - a.k.a Country Fried, Chicken Fried, Blue-Plate Special...
|Somewhere under this mouth-watering gravy is Fried Cubed Steaks|
A Classic Recipe with Many Names.Diners all across the south feature 'specials of the day' menus and almost all will have a smothered entree on it at any given time. The specials are given in many different ways from chalkboard easels out front, on scribbled paper hand-outs and most often, announced from your friendly grinning waitress. Of course, more than likely, you are not going to find outrageously gourmet prepared food and truthfully told, that is not the reason for our interest or visit to a diner in the first place. What we will find is a well prepared, honest-to-goodness, home-style meal that reminds us of a comforting setting, sitting at at table somewhere along the likes of Aunt Bea, June Cleaver, Donna Stone or maybe Olivia Walton. Yes, I go back that far...
And like all of these good eating establishments across our country, families in every state enjoy the same frugal way of Diner cookery: Preparing good, homey cooking using economical choices of ingredients. And, any way you cook it, Southern Fried Steak is just that, a less tender piece of beef that is cooked using a moist heat method. In this case, the meat is southerly battered, quickly pan fried and then allowed to tenderized itself by swimming and soaking in a revitalizing bath of seasoned gravy. Now I doubt Aunt Bea or any of the TV moms used packaged gravy, but my Momma did from time to time and in this recipe, it only adds to the savory tastiness.
Most often, round steak is used in this type of recipe. Be sure to keep in mind that the three cuts from a full round have different characteristics. Top round is the tenderest and it is often broiled or pan fried without any need of prior tenderizing. The eye of round needs to be pounded and the bottom round does best cubed. In the recipe today, I choose cubed steak, mostly because it was on sale, but also because I think it provides the best 'adhere' surface for the crusty coating that tenderly melds into a thickened gravy-laden covering for the beef steak. Enjoy!
Southern Fried Steak with Creamy Gravyalso known as Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, Smothered Cubed Steak, etc.
4 pieces cube steak (or round steak tenderized with meat mallet), about 1 1/2 pounds
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning or Cajun
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup Crisco or vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Badia Complete Seasoning (Sazon Completa)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 -.87 oz McCormick Brown Gravy, 30% less sodium
2 tablespoons minced sweet onion, optional
Place flour in a wide shallow bowl. Place buttermilk in another wide shallow bowl; both are for preparing the meat with the flour coating.
Season one side of each steak with a light sprinkle of Konriko Creole Seasoning and lightly dust with flour. Sprinkle other side of steak with salt and with a light dusting of flour. Dip each steak into the buttermilk quickly coating each side and dredge in the flour patting flour into the crevices of the meat. Place steak on a wire rack while to rest while continuing with remaining steaks.
In a large skillet (I cooked 2 at a time), heat oil over medium high and brown steaks on both sides. Remove to plate draining on paper towels.
Remove all but about 3 tablespoons of pan drippings.
Add flour from the dredging bowl (about 1/3 cup) and whisk to a smooth consistency. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes and slowly whisk in the milk and half of the chicken broth. Mix the McCormick gravy mix with remaining broth and whisk this into the skillet. Add seasonings, more if needed to suit your taste, and stir until gravy is creamy and thickened. Add more broth if needed for a fairly medium bodied sauce. Stir in sweet onions if desired.
Add steaks to the pan, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Serve over hot rice or mashed potatoes.
Note: Some folks like to serve the steaks 'as is' right from the frying pan (a truer Chicken Fried Steak way) and add the gravy at serving time. That's okay with me, but just don't call it smothered.