Monday, April 13, 2009

The Patron Saint of Gravy: Chicken Fried Steak and Creamy White Gravy

Just when I thought I was pretty well caught up on technology, here comes Twitter to put me in my place. I have finally figured out my digital camera (well, kind of), I can turn my computer on all by myself, forward e-mails, and I can send a text a good 60% of the time. My husband and children are finally pretty proud of me and my technological accomplishments. Now, here comes something else to challenge me. For Pete’s sake, enough is enough. As usual, I will probably grumble about it until my family finally pushes this old dog to learn this new trick too. I guess there’s always something waiting around the corner to confound us.

I think dread of technological challenges are one reason that I love cooking so much. It is something that I really understand and feel safe doing. Oh sure, I’ve had some disasters. Shortly after I married I almost sliced my index finger off with a mandolin slicer and fainted dead away in the kitchen with a lounge full of guests waiting for supper. Then there was the time I tried a new recipe for a red onion tarte tatin for Thanksgiving dinner. Since this was a Delia Smith recipe and I was an experienced cook, I figured that it would certainly turn out to be delicious and I could break my long standing rule that I never tried a new recipe on a special occasion. Well, let’s just say that it turned out to be less than edible and it is now referred to as Karen’s penicillin pie escapade. Usually, I would never let a recipe defeat me but, it was so bad that I’ve never even attempted to give it a second try. Thank goodness that my successes far out number my failures.

My love for cooking really ignited when I was in my early twenties and I was invited to a party a friend of mine was giving. Being an avid hunter, he had a freezer full of doves and was planning on serving them (yuck) to all of us. When I arrived at his house, about four or five people (in various states of drunkenness) were standing around a giant roaster trying to figure out how to turn the pan drippings into gravy. In a moment of youthful madness, I heard myself saying “I know how to make gravy.” Had I lost my mind?! Sure, I’d seen my mother and grandmother whip up gravy a couple of hundred times before but I’d never done it myself. My host handed me a spoon and a cup full of flour and told me to do my stuff.

To make a long story short, the patron saint of gravy, must have been at my side that night and guided my hands to prepare a silky smooth concoction that was no less than culinary perfection (well, that’s how I remember it). For at least that one night, I had attained gravy induced rock star status. Young men in our group that had really never noticed me before looked at me with no less than lust in their eyes from that night on. I was, and still am I might add, hot stuff both in the kitchen and out (ha!).

As is my pattern, I’m tying this story to a recipe that I am quite fond of. The recipe du jour, as you probably guessed, is my favorite recipe for Creamy White Gravy and, in my opinion, one of nature’s best accompaniments for it, Chicken Fried Steak. It’s not roasted dove in brown gravy, but this humble substitute will have to do. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is my son Kevin's favorite birthday dish. For some reason, men, young and old alike, prefer eating this over pretty much anything else. If you want to close the deal, any deal, this is the meal to do it with.


Chicken Fried Steak

2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) garlic powder
¼ cup (50ml) milk
1 ½ pounds (750g) beef steak, about 1/2" thick, tenderized
1 cup (158g) plain flour
1 cup (158g) breadcrumbs (In a pinch I've used finely crushed crackers and the results are delicious)
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large, shallow bowl, combine the eggs, salt, garlic powder and milk and set aside. Place the flour and breadcrumbs in two separate plates. Pour enough vegetable oil in a large frying pan to be about 1” (2.5cm) deep and place over medium high heat. Cut the steak in 4 – 6 equal pieces.


Dredge each piece of meat in the flour then the egg mixture, then finally through the breadcrumbs. When the oil is preheated to medium high, place each piece of steak into the hot oil (steak should immediately sizzle when it is dipped into the oil). Cover and cook breaded steak on each side for approximately 6 minutes or until it is a golden brown. Drain on a triple thickness of kitchen roll. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Serves 4


Creamy White Gravy

4 tablespoons of pan drippings or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 cups milk
1 cup water
2 teaspoons chicken soup base or bouillon granules
Salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste



Heat drippings or oil in a frying pan to medium. Sprinkle flour over hot oil one tablespoon at a time, whisking well until a smooth paste is formed. Combine milk and water in a medium size jug. Now, whisking constantly, slowly add milk mixture and then the soup base or bouillon. Bring the mixture to a slow boil (adjusting temperature if necessary), continuting to whisk constantly and cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. Gravy should be coat the back of a spoon when done. If not, simmer, uncovered to reduce for a thicker consistency or, add more milk or water for a thinner consistency.



If you are brave and are looking for a little kick, add a chopped fresh jalapeno pepper to the paste before adding the milk mixture. This is also great mixed with chopped and cooked chipolata sausages served over plain butter scones.
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