Comfort Food

15 04 2008

A little while ago, I was browsing the forums on DallasFood and came upon a story about fried chicken.  It was a very cold and nasty Sunday afternoon, and I was suddenly hit with a wave of homesickness and the desire for some chicken-fried deliciousness from Lucky’s or Allgood brought tears to my eyes.

I began thinking about how to replicate the ever-so-comforting chicken fried steak (henceforward to be referred to as CFS), researching breading/battering methods, cooking oils, and so on.  It didn’t occur to me until several days later that the French steak haché may be just what I need to get the right cut-it-with-a-fork tenderness that only cubesteak can provide.  Upon inspection, however, it really looked more like fancy molded hamburger than anything.  Luckily, there were some thin steaks next to it on the shelf, which had clearly been cut across the grain, and looked as though they may have been tenderized as well.  I picked them up and went home, hungry with anticipation.

As for the recipe, I decided to base mine on the one from Cook’s Illustrated, as they are my go-to source for recipes, especially of the Americana variety.  I set up my breading station with meat, seasoned flour, and a thin batter made from egg, buttermilk (well, milk and lemon juice), baking powder, and baking soda.

Breading set-up for CFS

Meanwhile, I was heating up a large pan of peanut oil on the gas stove.  (Have I mentioned how psyched I am about the gas stove?  This is the first time in about 6 years I’ve had one at home!)  Anyway, when the oil was nice and hot, I dredged the steaks in flour, dipped them in the batter, and carefully placed them in the pan.

Putting the \'fried\' in chicken-fried steak

As you can see, the batter was a little thin.  Not the perfect CFS, but not bad for a first attempt.*  Once it was smothered in cream gravy (which, let’s face it, is just countrified béchamel sauce – France strikes again!) and joined by a heap of buttery mashed potatoes and roasted green beans, I had no complaints.

CFS dinner - the perfect comfort food?

* For those of you who must know, it was more in the style of Allgood than Lucky’s – very thin, crispy breading with a tendency to fall off.

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