One of the best ways to prepare and serve cubed steak is to fry it and smother it with gravy. Chicken-fried steak and gravy—also known as country-fried steak, red-neck steak, poor man’s steak, or southern-fried steak—is both easy and cheap. If prepared just right, it can also be quite tasty. By no means should you consider the dish low-fat or low-calorie. It’s usually served with gravy, mashed potatoes (with butter), and biscuits (with butter), all of which lends to the tastiness of the dish.
To prepare chicken-fried steak and gravy: First, tenderize the cubed steak. Cubed steak is round steak before it’s tenderized. Round steak is a less-expensive but tough cut of meat. It will be hard to chew if you don’t tenderize it before cooking. You can purchase it already tenderized, or you can ask the butcher to do it for you. If not, place the meat between two pieces of clear plastic wrap, then place the meat on a cutting board. Pound both sides of the meat with the “teeth” side of a meat mallet until the meat is about ⅛ to ¼-inch thick. Remove the plastic wrap and discard.
Like many of the other recipes on ONO, this is also a use-what-you-have dish. Usually, I dip the tenderized meat in milk, flour, then milk. If I’m short on milk, I use an egg wash (one or two tablespoons of water whisked with one or two eggs). It works just as well as the milk. I use the pan drippings to make the gravy, and occasionally, I use equal parts of milk and water. Sometimes, I sauté a small onion in the drippings before making the gravy just to change it up a bit. I like to return the steak to pan and let it simmer in the gravy for a few minutes. It helps make it nice and tender.
Chicken-Fried Steak with Gravy Recipe
For the cubed steak
- 1 pound cubed steak tenderized and cut into 4 pieces
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup plus of shortening or vegetable oil for frying
For the gravy
- 1/3 cup shortening or oil
- 3 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons flour
- salt and pepper
Line a dish or baking sheet with paper towels. Set aside.
Soak meat in milk for about 5 minutes. Shake off excess liquid. Generously salt and pepper both sides of meat. Dredge in flour, then the milk, and then flour again.
In a large cast-iron skillet, heat shortening on medium-high heat, about 350°F (don't let the oil smoke). If you don't have a thermometer, test the oil by dipping a fork in the flour then the oil. If it sizzles right away, it's ready. Fry two or three steaks at a time about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Place cooked meat on the prepared paper towel-lined dish or baking sheet to absorb the excess oil.
When all of the meat is cooked, reduce heat to medium-low. Run a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan to loosen the pan drippings. Add additional oil or shortening to the pan until it equals about 1/3 cup, or remove extra oil until 1/3 cup remains. Sprinkle flour, salt, and pepper over hot oil, and stir until dissolved. Continue to stir until the mixture is slightly toasty and starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and reduce to simmer. Gravy thickens as it cooks. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Spoon gravy over fried cubed steaks, or return steaks to the pan and simmer in the gravy for about 10 minutes.
Recipe NotesIf the gravy is too thick, add 1/2 cup of water and stir. Repeat until gravy is the desired consistency.