My husband, being a Midwestern Boy, loves and appreciates his comfort food. Chicken Fried steak is all about comfort and calories, and I can assure you that this is one of the hardest posts I've had to edit. Just looking at the photos I took, makes my mouth water for this sinfully (and very easy) Man-Pleasing Dinner.
It's time to fry, so here's a tip from Cook's Illustrated: 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.
I don't make gravy often-- in fact, pretty much only at Thanksgiving. But Chicken Fried Steak needs gravy. I did use P-Dub's gravy recipe, from her cookbook. I like to strain the drippings. To me, it's easier to catch those tasty bits, but you don't have to dirty your fine sieve if you don't want to.
NOTE: *I used part 1% milk and part half 'n half, because I didn't have whole milk. It still works!
NOTE: *I used some chicken stock, in place of additional milk. I think it gives the gravy more depth of flavor. 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.
Now, about those mashed potatoes... I recently discovered a new way to make mashed potatoes that is super easy and clever. Here's how I made garlic mashed potatoes:
I lightly season the potatoes with kosher salt and pepper-- I'll be adding more seasoning later on. Cook the potatoes, covered, on medium heat, until fork tender. Now, this is important... remove some of the cooking liquid and set it aside.
TASTING NOTES: I think Cook's Illustrated's addition of the baking soda and powder really helped to make this crust become crunchy and perfect. I used peanut oil, but vegetable oil would work fine. Flavor-wise, my husband loved this dinner, and I definitely made his stomach and heart feel very loved and happy.
I'm not big on gravy, but I have to say that this was very flavorful. I think the chicken stock was a good addition. While my husband doesn't burn off a lot of calories by working cattle on a ranch, he gets enough of a workout pushing the lawn mower up our very steep and grassy hill! This is definitely a man-pleasing dinner and I highly recommend it. I give kudos to The Pioneer Woman's gravy, -- and little bit of my own improvs on adding chicken stock to the gravy and potatoes.
Enjoy (in moderation),