Chicken-Fried Steak

Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, says the secret to this cowboy classic is to double dip the meat for maximum crust.

American Cowboy Picture


  • 3 pounds cube steak
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1⁄ 2 cups milk, plus 2 cups for the gravy
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1⁄ 3 cup for the gravy
  • 2 t. seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
  • 3⁄ 4 t. paprika
  • 1⁄ 4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1⁄ 2 t. black pepper
  • 3 t. seasoned salt
  • 1⁄ 2 cup canola or vegetable oil for frying


    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)

  • Comments

    Chuck Wagon Chicken Fried Steak

    I enjoyed reading Ree Drummond's recipe for Chicken Fried Steak. I recall reading that over 600,000 servings of Chicken Fried Steak are serve in Texas restaurants daily. One can judge the quality of steak by the number of parked pick-up trucks located outside any establishment. If only one truck is parked, likely they are being served steak that came frozen and pre-battered. That's however uncommon though as most greasy spoons pride themselves on being able to prepare excellent Chicken Fried Steak.

    Today's Chuck Wagon Cooking Competition judges several areas of cooking. One being meat and most competitions call for cooking Chicken Fried Steak. This was a treat when served during the trail drives but today, most competitors have to cook servings ranging from 40 to 80 plates available to the public.

    Likely, Chicken Fried Steak originates in Texas. It's roots seem to begin around 1850 in central Texas area. The large German population there loved a recipe of breaded Veal "Wiener Schnitzel" and frying veal for good Wiener Schnitzel is just as today making Chicken Fried Steak. However, due to large quantities of available beef and lack of Veal seems likely that the entree replaced Lamb using various cuts from longhorn cattle. The recipe simply replaced the meat with what was readily available.

    Tougher cuts of meat could be pounded using a mallet into a more chewable thin 1/4 inch piece of meat and breaded to increase taste. The Veal was prepped in this manner, pounding the meat flat into those thin cuts. However, while Ree states that double dipping is the secret to superb Chicken Fried Steak, I would go one step further mentioning that the gravy which will smoother the steak needs to have utmost flavor. The trail drive cooks always kept left over bacon grease and reused it. This heavily flavored grease would be used when making gravy and really adds an amazing Divine taste.

    Keep in mind, cooks on the trail drive rarely cooked meat as the cattle was "money on the hoof." Although, the occasional weak steer might be traded with area immigrates for fresh vegetables, goods or to just cross someones farm. If cattle had to be slaughtered, the best parts of beef would be traded. Others, made into stew and parts like Skirt cuts made into jerky, fajitas or even chicken fried steak. While Ree Drummond's recipe called for milk, only can milk was available during the later trail drives and water frequently substituted milk following different recipes.

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