Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, says the secret to this cowboy classic is to double dip the meat for maximum crust.
1. Begin with clean dishes for the meat, milk-egg mixture, and flour mixture with a plate at the end for the breaded meat.
2. Combine eggs and 1 cup milk; beat with a fork.
3. Mix salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper into 3 cups flour.
4. Lightly season a piece of the meat with salt and pepper. Dip both sides into the egg-milk mixture, then dredge meat in seasoned flour, coating thoroughly. Dip in egg-milk mixture and dredge in flour one more time. This repetition creates a thick crust that is the signature quality of good chicken-fried steak.
5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook meat in small batches 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and keep warm.
6. After frying all the meat, pour off the grease into a heat-proof bowl. Without wiping the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup grease back to the pan and allow to heat up.
7. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease, and then whisk to make a golden-brown paste known as a “roux”.
8. Pour in 2 cups milk, whisking constantly. Let the gravy come to a slow boil. The gravy will thicken gradually. Total cooking process should take 5 to 10 minutes. Generously season with salt and pepper.
9. Plate the meat with a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, and cover with gravy.
Recipes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond (HarperCollins, 2009)
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