Chicken Fried Steak with Milk Gravy, adapted from the Pioneer Woman
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
6 cube steaks , about 5 ounces each, pounded to ⅓ inch thickness
4 – 5 cups peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
For the gravy:
¼ grease (from the pan, after cooking the steaks
⅓ cup flour
2 cups milk (note:I used 1½ cups milk and ¼ chicken stock)
kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
NOTE: Getting the initial oil temperature to 375 degrees is key to the success of this recipe. An instant-read thermometer with a high upper range is perfect for checking the temperature; a clip-on candy/deep-fry thermometer is also fine. If your Dutch oven measures 11 inches across , you will need to fry the steaks in two batches.
1. For the steaks: Measure the flour, 5 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne into a large shallow dish. In a second large shallow dish, beat the egg, baking powder, and baking soda; stir in the buttermilk (the mixture will bubble and foam).
2. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper to taste. Drop the steaks into the flour and shake the pan to coat. Shake excess flour from each steak, then, using tongs, dip the steaks into the egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing the excess to drip off. Coat the steaks with flour again, shake off the excess, and place them on the wire rack.
3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, set a second wire rack over a second rimmed baking sheet, and place the sheet on the oven rack; heat the oven to 200 degrees.
NOTE: keeping the steaks warm, over a wire rack, prevents the
Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels. Meanwhile, heat 1 inch of oil in a large (11-inch diameter) Dutch oven (I used a cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat to 375 degrees.
Place the steaks (do in two batches, rather than crowding the pan) in the oil and fry, turning once, until deep golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes (oil temperature will drop to around 335 degrees).
Transfer the steaks to the paper towel-lined plate to drain, then transfer them to the wire rack in the oven.
Bring the oil back to 375 degrees and repeat the cooking and draining process (use fresh paper towels) with the three remaining steaks.
For the gravy:
After frying the meat, pour off the fat into a heat proof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan. allow the grease to heat up.
Sprinkle about 1/3 cup flour evenly over the fat. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the fat, creating a golden brown paste. This is knows as a “roux”, and you want the roux to attain a deep, rich color. If the paste seems more oily the pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of lour. Whisk again and check the consistency.
After a couple of minutes, the paste will start to turn golden brown. That’s when it’s ready for the next step.
Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups milk.
Whisk to combine, then let the gravy thicken gradually. If it seems too thick at first, at splashes of milk, as needed– whisking to combine. As you cook and thicken the gravy, be prepared to splash in more milk if it becomes overly thick. The total cooking process should take 5-10 minutes. Generously season the gravy with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, tasting it as you go along. According to the Pioneer Woman, under seasoned gravy is one of life’s great sacrileges.
Place the warm meat on a plate, with a heating pile of mashed potatoes and drizzle with a little gravy (or a lot).
Total comfort food, don’t even think about making it low-fat. Exercise, fast after eating– becasue this is really delicious. Men love it!
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