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What is Chicken Fried Steak?

Sara Schmidt
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Southern or country style cooking is famous for its fried foods. One popular meal, chicken fried steak, consists of a tender piece of cubed steak, pan fried in seasoned flour. Considered a comfort food for many people, it is typically served with traditional Southern style sides, such as green beans, mashed potatoes, or corn on the cob.

Chicken fried steak is also known as CFS or pan fried steak. If the recipe also features an egg dip during the frying process, it can be referred to as country fried steak. The name of the steak is in regards to its cooking preparations, which are similar to those used to cook fried chicken. In addition to cooking oil, CFS can be cooked in butter, shortening, lard, or other fats.

Most chicken fried steak recipes call for the meat to be topped with some sort of gravy. The traditional gravy used is typically made with peppered milk. Different regions may specialize in various types of gravy. Some areas may use brown gravy, or sweet additions such as cinnamon and sugar within the milk gravy.

Some diners may even fry the meal itself within the gravy. Others might top the gravy with garnish items, such as mushrooms or onions. Chipotle or cayenne pepper can be used in spicier gravies, while garlic powder and onion can provide a unique, zesty flavor. Most chefs call for a medium-thin type of gravy. Milk or water can be added to gravy in order to thin it out if necessary.

To make basic chicken fried steak, sift together half of one cup (68 grams) of flour and a dash each of salt and pepper. Stir one large egg and two tablespoons (30 milliliters) of water together in a shallow pan. In another dish, pour out three-fourths of one cup (100 grams) of buttermilk baking mix. Coat four half-pound (quarter-kilogram) steaks in each of the three mixtures in successive order.

Pour a third of one cup (79 milliliters) of vegetable oil into a frying pan over medium heat. Fry each piece of meat in the mixture for four to five minutes per side. Each side should be golden brown and crispy. Once fried, pour any gravy flavor of choice on top of the chicken fried steaks and serve.

In relation to global cuisine, chicken fried steak is very similar to the Austrian meal Wiener Schnitzel. Also known as milanesa in Latin America, and collops in Scotland, schnitzel is similarly fried, and made from beef or veal. Some varieties are also fried with breadcrumbs. It should be noted that some places also refer to Salisbury steak, which consists of chopped beef covered in brown gravy, as country steak.

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Sara Schmidt
By Sara Schmidt , Writer
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for WiseGeek, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.

Discussion Comments

By Lostnfound — On Mar 22, 2014

I like chicken fried steak with a brown gravy best. I am not fond of sawmill, or milk gravy, in general. As I've gotten a little older, I don't eat fried foods nearly as often, so when I do, I want them to be really good.

Chicken fried steak is just an occasional treat, but I do like it once a year or so. It's good stuff -especially with mashed potatoes and pinto beans.

Sara Schmidt

Sara Schmidt

Writer

With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for WiseGeek, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
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