The secret to making perfect chicken fried steak, according to a golf-club chef
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
If you had to designate an “official dish” of Oklahoma, where the PGA Championship is taking place this week, chicken fried steak would make a good nominee.
This hearty preparation, starring battered and fried beef, blanketed in velvety gravy, is a staple at road stops and grill rooms around the state. Sample all you like. You won’t find a better version than the one served by chef Geoff van Glabbeek and his staff at Cedar Ridge Country Club, in south Tulsa.
What are the finer points of chicken fried steak? We asked Van Glabbeek to run us through the fundamentals, just in time for supper after Sunday’s final round. We’ve also included his complete recipe below.
The Meat of the Matter
Cube steak is the classic cut used in chicken-fried steak. It’s Van Glabbeek’s go-to. But if you can’t find it, he suggests buying round steak and asking your butcher to tenderize it for you. Still not tender enough for your taste? Try marinating the meat in buttermilk for a few hours, with a dash of Tabasco for additional flavor. For a black-tie version of chicken-fried steak, you could upgrade to tenderloin, Van Glabbeek’s choice for special occasions.
A Hot Iron Game
When he’s making chicken-fried steak for a sizable crowd, Van Glabbeek sometimes uses a deep-fryer. But his preferred method is the stovetop, in a cast-iron skillet, which retains heat better than a stainless-steel pan. He is firmly opposed to an air fryer.
“I know they are popular,” he says. “But it just isn’t the same.”
Working Better with Batter
Dredging and battering can be messy work. Van Glabbeek recommends that you divide the labor, using one hand for the dredging and the other for the dripping, so that both don’t get caked in flour.
“It’s not as important when you’re only making a few steaks,” he says. “But when you scale it up, it saves you time, flour and headaches.”
When you take your chicken-fried steak hot off the skillet, don’t let it go cold while you make the gravy. Keep it in a warming drawer or in the oven set to low, until you’re ready to top it off.
Chef Van Glabbeek’s Chicken Fried Steak Recipe
4 cube steaks, 4 to 6 ounces each
1 cup milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tbs butter
For the Gravy:
1/4 cup flour
2 to 3 cups milk
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. In a second shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, granulated garlic and smoked paprika.
Working with one steak at a time, season the meat with a touch of salt and pepper and place in the seasoned flour. Turn to coat. Place the meat in the milk mixture, turn to coat. Then return the meat to the flour mixture and coat again. After the second coating of flour, place the battered steak on a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining steaks.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the butter. If the butter sizes, you know the pan is hot enough (if the butter browns immediately, though, the pan is too hot). Place two pieces of the floured meat in the skillet and cook until the edges start to turn golden brown, flip over and repeat for the other side. This should take 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place the cooked meat on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.
Add the remaining butter to the skillet and cook the rest of the floured meat.
For the Gravy:
Pour off the grease into a heat-proof container. Add 1/4 cup of the grease back to the skillet and allow it to heat over medium heat.
Sprinkle the flour evenly over the oil. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the grease to create a paste. Keep cooking and stirring the roux until it reaches a golden-brown color.
Pour in 2 cups of the milk while whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then continue cooking while whisking until the gravy is smooth and thickens. If the gravy becomes too thick, whisk in more of the remaining milk. Simmer for at least 5 minutes.
Taste the gravy again and adjust seasoning before spooning it over the steaks.