Chef Andy Knudson recreates a cherished family food memory with his take on Chicken Fried Steak. We've got the recipe just in time for National Chicken Fried Steak Day.
Thanks to my mother, a star in the kitchen and an East Texas cuisine enthusiast, I’ve never gone too long without chicken fried steak. My less-than-ideal waistline and my long-term sense of contentment are proof of this.
The Hauk version isn’t quite like what you might get at a homestyle restaurant in Texas. People who order out frequently are used to a large cut of fried meat that covers most of the plate. Nothing wrong with that, no sir. But she cuts the meat into tinier strip-sized pieces – perfectly imperfect, and prime for dipping in the creamy, peppery gravy she “magics” together with leftover grease, milk, and flour after the steak is done frying. I take one look at that heaping platter of crunchy, non-conforming CFS strips, and I’m once again flooded with said contentment.
Mom learned the ins and outs of CFS greatness from my dad’s mother, whom we lovingly referred to as Nanny. Years after Nanny’s passing, the tradition continues in our family home and in the homes of her other children. Heck, when my mom doesn’t feel like standing over a fryer, my dad takes over the kitchen and reaches for that magic. His cravings can be intense.
But we’re not one bit special as a family. Chicken fried steak is beloved worldwide, and officially, celebrated nationwide on October 26.
Happy National Chicken Fried Steak Day!
I bet you think I’m going to offer up my mom’s recipe, right? Think again. She doesn’t use recipes. The greatest home cooks rarely do.
Professional chefs? That’s a different story. Recipes and techniques are a bit more crucial when you’re maintaining a consistent standard and serving people who keep coming back for the same experience time and again. That’s why we’re lucky enough to get our hands on a winning chicken fried steak recipe from Tillie’s in Dripping Springs, Texas. Its award-winning executive chef, Andy Knudson, has a very similar connection to CFS. We’ll let him speak for himself:
“Growing up I had a grandmother that made chicken fried steak from Texas and an aunt who makes fried pork chops from North Dakota. When thinking about brunch I wanted to add these two food memories together and create one of our top selling dishes on the weekend,” Knudson says.
“Both my grandmother and aunt did a lot of cooking and when we look back at family pictures, I am always in the kitchen next to them. I didn’t know back then that one day, I would become a chef. My grandmother has since passed, but my aunt is still frying up those pork chops for the family. I did see her this past summer and requested the meal that I have had every time I have seen her for as long as I can remember. But she told me that it was my turn to cook for her. Long story short — I have not had her pork chops in several years!”
Steak, pork, venison, or whatever's around … families with healthy appetites have been frying up cuts of meat for ages, and it never gets old.
Did I mention my mom does fried pork loin, too? I’m feeling the sudden urge to go for a visit. Gotta go. I’ll leave you with executive chef Andy Knudson’s recipe for Morning Chicken Fried Steak:
Morning Chicken Fried Steak
4 tenderized Steaks (see notes below)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp course ground black pepper
2 tbsp New Mexican chili powder
½ cup dried parsley leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
- Season the AP flour with all of the spices and keep in separate bowl.
- Whisk all the eggs; keep in a separate bowl.
- Take the steaks and dredge them in flour and then into the egg mixture. Then back into the flour.
Here is the life choice:
- If you are a person that owns a deep fry, then fry at 350 F for about five minutes until golden brown.
- If you are the kind of person that cooks in a cast-iron or a Dutch oven, fill with your fat of choice (I like canola and beef tallow). If pan frying, you are going to want to do a shallow fry. Based on how big your pan is, you want about ½ inch of desired fat. Carefully place steaks in and cook on each side until golden brown.
- Remove from fat and let rest on a sheet tray with a wire rack. This will help the fat run off and stay crispy
NOTE: Tenderized meat options include white tail deer, nilgia, beef, pork, chicken, buffalo, elk, wild boar.
Hatch Chili Red Eye Cream Gravy
¼ cup unsalted butter (can sub bacon fat, beef tallow, vegetable fat)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup Hatch chilis diced (roasted and seeded)
2 tbsp fresh ground coffee
Salt And fresh ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the flour, whisking continuously for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the cayenne pepper, hatch chilis, coffee ground, salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking while whisking frequently until gravy has thickened to your desired consistency.
Find out more about Tillie's and Chef Knudson here.