Seriously, y’all, this might harden your arteries just reading this post. You’ve been warned!
As a kid, one of my very favorite things to eat was Hoover Steak. Hoover Steak is a dust bowl survivor’s concoction of white bread covered in white or cream gravy. We used to call it chicken gravy, regardless of the meat which was cooked in the fat used to make the gravy. In fact, I liked the Hoover Steak better than the Chicken Fried Steak. My mom and dad were mystified, to them Hoover steak was deprivation, to me it was a mouthful of creamy heaven. My mother’s recipe was more of the country fried variety, just salt and pepper the steak, dredge in flour and fry in a pan. Her chicken gravy is second to none; she managed to create a smooth velvety gravy with bursts of crunchy bits from the cooking. Mom’s recipe included a tablespoon of rendered bacon grease, tasty but not so healthy. I prefer a more schnitzel style, such as what is served at the Route 66 diner, which used to be located in downtown Tulsa.
Now, the story of how we came to have Chicken Fried Steak night has nothing to do with the new deep fat fryer that Mr. Lane decided to buy, chicken fried steak is pan fried, not deep fat fried. Plus, making gravy in the deep fat fryer would be a serious mess! Rather, it has everything to do with the Weight Watcher’s meat loaf we were making for Thursday night’s dinner. Yup, you read that right, Weight Watchers made me eat Chicken Fried Steak.
You see we needed some ground beef for the meat loaf. Mr. Lane set off in search of 95% lean ground beef while I picked up the potatoes and the chives. When we arrived home, the hamburger turned out to be cubed steak. So the Meatloaf was made with only ground turkey and the cubed steak sat in the fridge. Now you know and I know there is only one thing to do with cubed steak, fry it, chicken fry it.
I searched for some recipes, checked out Paula Deen’s, Alton Browns, Threadgill’s, then I went with a derivation of my mother’s recipe. Although I did drain the fried steak on a rack as Alton Brown recommends. Draining on paper toweling does tend to steam the steak and make it less crisp. Other than that, there really isn’t much difference amongst the Chicken Fried Steak recipes. All involve seasoning with salt and pepper, a flour dredge, an egg wash, followed by a final flour dredge. The difference is in the gravy. Chicken gravy is essentially, well, salt and peppered oil infused paste.
Chicken Fried Steak
At least four servings, make it a true meat and three and you can easily feed six!
1 pound cube steak
1 tsp salt and
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T water
1 1/4 cups flour
Heat oil in large, preferably cast iron, pan on medium high. Use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan to about 1/2 inch up the side.
Preheat the oven to medium high or turn on warming drawer to medium high.
Whisk eggs with water until well blended.
Season steak with salt and pepper.
Dredge steak in flour, dip in egg wash, dredge in flour again.
Place steak on plate until ready to fry.
Fry steak in oil, turning once, if you must, turn it a couple of times, I usually do, but don’t turn it the first time until it is brown on the bottom and slips easily around the pan, not stuck to the bottom.
Cook in batches, do not crowd the pan. Drain on rack. When all are cooked, place in warming oven until ready to serve.
2-3 T Grease from cooking steak,
2-3 T flour use the flour from dredging
2-3 cups of milk
1 t salt
2 t pepper
Pour off all but about 2 – 3 T of oil, mix in flour, stir until smooth and all browned bits are incorporated and flour is smoothly blended in. Add milk in steady stream stirring until smooth and the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.
Here is where I have to admit a small glitch on my part, I neglected to pour off the grease until I had only enough to make the amount of gravy that we needed. So, I had more than enough gravy, in fact I made enough gravy for the next round of chicken fried something.
Everyone dug in before I could get pictures taken, these are the left overs! And, yup, I had my Hoover Steak. But, I may not have any room for breakfast, tomorrow.