GSA’s Sunday Eating Club: Southern Chicken Fried Steak

By Rachael Reagan

Rachael Reagan shares a little backstory and a recipe for chicken-fried steak, a Southern classic.  The Gastronomy Students Association hosts a bi-monthly Sunday Eating Club event.  To see all the GSA’s events, please visit our Calendar.

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Chicken fried steak and gravy with buttermilk biscuits and blackberry jam (Photo by Lauren Kauffman)

“So wait, is it chicken or is it steak?”

This question surely arises from both Yankees and novice Southerners alike anytime chicken fried steak appears on the menu. Even fine gastronauts-in-training, many of who attended the latest Sunday Eating Club function on September 28th, have questions regarding the nature of this indulgent, deep-fried dish. Referring to its cooking method, chicken-fried steak is steak that has been deep fried like chicken. Traditionally served as the star of any Southern meal, chicken fried steak is almost always served in a pool of peppery gravy flanked by mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits. A first-year student originally from Oklahoma, I gladly shared the southern classic with Gastronomy students Sunday night at the Gastronomy Students Association’s second Sunday Eating Club meeting of the semester.

Not forgetting the standards of southern hospitality, the evening began with two dips very common in Southern states: Rotel dip and white queso. Though white queso is mainly considered a Tex-Mex staple, it nevertheless appears in almost any kind of restaurant menu. Rotel dip, consisting of equal parts cream cheese and Rotel brand canned diced tomatoes (no other diced tomatoes will work) can be seen served at almost any tailgate throughout the south.

With the guests happily occupied with two varieties of cheese, the biscuit-making procedure began. Cutting in lard and butter into a sifted dry mixture, I explained the difference between a drop biscuit and a rolled biscuit. Though virtually the same, families have fought for years over the superior method. Rolled biscuits require a rolling pin, biscuit cutter, and patience. Drop biscuits, as their name suggests, are simply dropped by the spoonful onto a buttered and floured baking sheet.

The process of frying chicken-fried steak is a long one, and the evening had the laid-back nature of any southern meeting. Though long and intensive, the steaks were well worth the wait. The backdrop of easy conversation and sizzling oil made conditions perfect for enjoying a sinful fried steak with gravy.

Sunday Suppers are held by the Gastronomy Students Association twice each month and encourage students to share a food or food custom with their peers. Here is my recipe for Chicken Fried Steak:

Chicken Fried Steak

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt (preferably Lawry’s)
  • ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 pounds cube steak (or top round), tenderized and cut
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Oil for frying (preferable neutral oil)
  1. Mix together whole milk and eggs in a shallow dish and set aside.
  2. Mix together flour, seasoned salt, pepper, salt, paprika, cayenne, garlic salt, and onion salt in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  3. Dredge meat in flour mixture then egg mixture, then again in flour mixture. Set aside dredged meat on clean plate. Repeat with all pieces.
  4. Add about an inch of oil to a large skillet.
  5. Add the steaks to the oil three at a time, cooking about three minutes on each side. Transfer fried steaks to paper towel lined plate.

Gravy

  • Flour
  • Whole Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Without removing any grease from the pan, slowly add flour to grease whisking constantly until a thick consistency is reached
  2. When the flour has combined with the grease to form a paste-like consistency, add milk slowly.
  3. While whisking in milk, carefully watch the mixture to ensure desired consistency is reached. After desired consistency is reached, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately over steaks.
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