Chicken Fried Steak

You know, I’m not one to brag (I find it to be such an undesirable trait), but I am on point and have made more than a few impressive dinners lately.

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Is that bragging? No? Good.

Although I said I probably wouldn’t make chicken fried steak again (I prefer chicken), this was too good to pass up.  You know how bad I am about making the same recipe twice….

Besides, in all seriousness, J and Alexander love chicken fried steak  – in fact, Alexander took the remaining piece of steak as a sandwich to school the next day – he got to it before Sabrina did. To say she wasn’t happy is an understatement….

Anyway, once you get the hang of it, this is surprisingly simple to prepare. Time consuming, yes, but simple. I also think that the type of steak I picked up for this recipe go-round was much better than last time – it wasn’t tough at all, and cooked up to crispy perfection.

Verdict? This will definitely go on the monthly roster of recipes. Now if I can just perfect my white gravy making skills…..

Chicken Fried Steak – adapted from Serious Eats

  • 4 long, thin sirloin tip steaks (about 2 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart canola oil (depends on the size of your pan) 
  • For the Gravy:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tbs. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste

For the Steaks: Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Place steaks onto a sheet of foil, and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, pound steaks out to an even 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness.

Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Whisk together egg and 2/3 cup buttermilk in a separate shallow dish. Whisk together flour, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, baking powder, and cayenne pepper in a third shallow dish. Drizzle remaining 1/3 cup of buttermilk into seasoned flour and rub with fingertips until mixture is coarse like wet sand.

Working 1 steak at a time, coat well in cornstarch. Lift steak, shake off excess cornstarch, then transfer to egg mixture. Coat steak well in egg mixture, lift steak, letting excess egg drain off, then transfer to seasoned buttermilk-flour mixture. Coat steak well, pressing seasoned flour all over to help it adhere to the meat. Lift steak, shake off excess flour, and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining steaks. Let steaks stand for 10 minutes.

Place oil in a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375°F over high heat. Carefully lift 1 steak and gently slide into oil. Cook, flipping occasionally, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer steak to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 steaks.

For the gravy: Transfer 1/4 cup of hot frying oil to a medium saucepan placed over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Stir in pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with a bit of salt and additional pepper to taste.

Transfer steaks to plates, top with gravy, and serve immediately.

Beef Bourguignonne Pot Pie

Sometimes, in life, one must give credit where credit is due. And this, my friends, is that time. Right here, right now.

Can I be honest with you? …..like I would lie.… Seriously, I totally nailed this pot pie. I mean, it was perfect. Like I impressed myself “perfect”. And as we all know, we do tend to be our own worst critic. But not the other night, and not with this. Lest you think that I might break my arm patting myself on the back, the other three members of the house wholeheartedly agreed with me on this one.

It was “absolutely delicious, honey”, “really good, Mom, and “wow, Mom, your pie-crust making skills have really improved”.

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An A+ dinner, and one for the record books.

Beef Bourguignonne Pot Pie – adapted from Bon Appetit

The only major change I made to the recipe was to use my new favorite pie crust, instead of the puff pastry originally called for. Oh, and I used wine instead of broth. Because I think it tastes better :)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2″ pieces
  • slices bacon cut into ¼” pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs. brandy
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cups red wine
  • 5 tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 8 ounces pearl onions, peeled (I used frozen) 
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (two 14-oz. packages or one 17.3-oz. package), thawed
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

Position a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Season ½ cup flour with pepper. Add beef and toss to coat; shake off excess. Working in batches as needed to avoid steaming meat, cook beef, turning often, until browned all over, 8–10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Cook bacon in same pot, stirring often, until brown and crisp. Add ¼ cup wine and cook, scraping up browned bits, then add onion, leek, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and return beef to pot. Add brandy and simmer until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add thyme leaves, bay leaf, and wine and season with pepper; bring to a simmer. Mix 1 tbs. flour and 1 tbs. butter in a small bowl until smooth; stir into meat mixture. Cover pot and braise in oven until beef is very tender, 1–1½ hours.

Melt remaining 4 tbs. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and pearl onions and cook, stirring, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Season with pepper. Add mushrooms and onions to stew, cover pot, and return to oven. Cook until onions are very tender, 25–30 minutes. Let stew cool.

Meanwhile, working with one at a time, roll out pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface until about 4” larger than baking dish (use a 2-qt. oval or an 8” square). Place 1 sheet on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill. Transfer remaining sheet to baking dish. Lift up edge and let dough slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1” overhang. Transfer stew to baking dish. Brush edge of pastry with egg.

Using a cutter, punch out a circle in the center of chilled pastry. Drape pastry over filling and trim to a 1” overhang. Press edges of dough together to seal and fold overhang under. Crimp edge, then brush top of pastry with egg. Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 30–35 minutes. Let pie cool slightly.

Our favorite Pot Roast

I did it! I finally made a pot roast that was not only edible, it was incredibly delicious. Don’t laugh, I’m serious…

When I served this the other night, J immediately said, “Wow, this is really good”!  And although I don’t have a picture of it (really, it’s such an unattractive shade of brown…), this is definitely one for the record books, and will be lovingly prepared again when my parents arrive in about two weeks :)

Speaking of record books, you might remember my dialogue the other day about continuing this blog versus just saving all of our favorite recipes to the Paprika app. After careful consideration (and several middle-of-the-night-dialogues with myself), I have decided to continue my blog. It is in need of makeover, however, and more than a few better pictures, but I really enjoy the creative outlet it provides for me. Now all I have to do is find technological help in making it better and more user-friendly.

And no, Dad, that last comment wasn’t directed to you.

Ok ok, actually it was…….

Company Pot Roast – adapted from Ina Garten

1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
Freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour
Olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade ( I used about a cup of water, as we were out of stock)
3 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, leeks, and garlic, and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, 1 teaspoon black pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

Christmas Eve is two weeks away.

Two weeks!

I don’t know ’bout y’all, but I’m sitting here drinking wine, perusing the latest Sur La Table catalog and making lists for our Christmas holiday feast. And I’m in a bit of a quandary…… so perhaps you can help. Do I stay with the “it’s the holidays and I should make the traditional dishes”? Or…. branch out into something new and different?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to serve this beef stew for Christmas Dinner, as wonderful as that sounds. I’m thinking more along the lines of our usual Italian favorites for Christmas Eve, and then venture into the English territory for Prime Rib with popovers on Christmas Day.

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Well, I guess I just answered my own question….

In all seriousness though, I do have a few new ideas on the agenda, most notably the Kouigns Amann from this book (which I gave myself as an early Christmas present)… and the Creme Brûlée tart from this book. Aside from that, I think it’s going to be the traditional route all the way!

Oh…. one more thing…. this stew? Definitely on the menu when Mom and Dad arrive. They will love it. Although I served it over polenta for us, I’m thinking they’ll appreciate it on a bed of mashed potatoes a bit more.

A bed of mashed potatoes sounds quite nice right about now……

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce – adapted from Jacques Pepin

  • 1 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds trimmed beef flatiron steak or chuck, cut into 8 pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 8 slices thick cut bacon
  • 15 pearl or small cipollini onions, peeled
  • 15 cremini mushrooms
  • 15 baby carrots, peeled
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the meat in the casserole in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 8 minutes. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the meat with it. Add the wine, bay leaves and thyme, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Cover the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Cook the stew for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is flavorful.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Add the pearl onions, mushrooms and carrots. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and cook over high heat, tossing, until the vegetables are tender and nicely browned, about 4 minutes.

To serve, stir some of the vegetables into the stew and scatter the rest on top as a garnish. Top with a little chopped parsley and serve.

Greek Meatballs with Cucumber Sauce

I received some outstanding news the other day. Exceptional news, really. I’m thinking that perhaps I should have taken out the front page of the WSJ for news of this caliber. If you’re thinking it refers to a merger, or an IPO, you are, unfortunately, incorrect.

This is better. Much, much better. Believe it or not, we have royalty arriving in about two weeks.

For real.

Time to buff the silver, dust the baseboards, polish the floors, and roll out the red carpet…. for the Queen Mother is coming to town.

Jolly good, if you ask me.

Dad is attending a function close by that The Queen would rather not be a part of, so she decided that instead of watching the tumbleweeds roll by in Vegas, she would come here for pampering, relaxation, and a darn good time. I’ve been planning out where to take her, as there are a few places I haven’t been to yet that I know she will enjoy. That is, IF she feels like associating amongst Austinites.

One never knows.……..

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I mean, my mother won’t exactly be down for a trip to Food Truck Alley. Cocktails on the roof at the W Hotel? That will definitely elicit a much more positive reaction.

Although some of the food trucks are quite good……..

Greek Meatballs with Cucumber Sauce – adapted from Cat Cora

3 slices white bread with crust
1 cup milk
2 pounds ground beef (I used one pound beef, one pound ground lamb)
1 yellow onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped oregano
2 finely chopped tablespoons mint
2 teaspoon white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup olive oil
Flour, for dusting
Freshly ground black pepper
Pita Bread
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, recipe follows

Cucumber Sauce:
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup seeded and small-diced cucumber
3 cloves minced garlic

Dunk bread quickly in milk and press the liquid out to dampen the bread.

Combine the beef, bread, onion, garlic, oregano, mint, vinegar, eggs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Take a large spoon of the mixture and roll into a ball until all the mixture has been rolled.

In a saute pan, add the olive oil and bring it to 360-degrees F for frying. Dust the balls in flour and add to the oil. Brown on all sides, leaving room in the pan to roll them around. Pull from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Serve with pita and cucumber yogurt sauce.

Cucumber Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy

I have come to realize that in my life, for every success I achieve, there is a failure I must suffer..

Seriously.

Case in point: I really outdid myself making dinner last week. I prepared chicken fried steak, buttermilk mashed potatoes, cream gravy, and braised greens with bacon. J and the posse loved it.

And were still talking about it two days later.

Impressive, considering it was the first time I’ve ever attempted southern style cooking before. But it was one of those dinners that was well worth the time investment – and believe me, there was a serious amount of time involved.

And let’s not even get started on the mess……

Anyway, it’s a good thing that dinner was so good, because the next evening, I attempted a new recipe for cheese enchiladas. Another big time/mess investment.

Aaaaaannnnd suffice to say, I won’t be making them again.

Per the family’s request.

Ouch….

Chicken Fried Steak – adapted from Homesick Texan

Note: I found out the hard way that you really can’t coat the meat too far in advance – the flour gets gummy and then falls off while the steak is cooking.

  • 1 1/2 pounds top-round steak
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Cut the top-round steak into four pieces. Pound the steak with a meat tenderizer until flattened and almost doubled in size. Season the squashed steak on both sides with black pepper to taste.

Place the flour in a large bowl and add the black pepper and cayenne. In another large bowl, mix the eggs with the buttermilk.

Take a piece of the tenderized steak and dredge it in the flour mixture, turning it to coat. Then dip the coated steak in the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Dip it back into the flour again. Place on a wire rack and repeat with the remaining steak.

Pour enough oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, to reach a depth of 1/2-inch. Heat it to 300°F (149°C). Line a rack with paper towels. Take the coated steak and gently place them in the skillet, being careful not to crowd the skillet. You may need to work in batches. Be careful, as there will be a lot of popping and hissing when you add the steaks to the hot oil. After about 3 or 4 minutes, gently turn the steaks with tongs and cook for 5 more minutes.

Remove the steaks from the skillet and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. (If cooking the steaks in batches, you can opt to keep the cooked steaks warm in an oven set at 200°F (93°C) while you cook the remaining steaks.) Serve the steaks smothered in cream gravy.

Cream Gravy – adapted from Homesick Texas

  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat until warm. Stir in the flour and cook, continuously stirring, for a couple of minutes until a dark roux forms.

Slowly add the milk to the skillet, stirring with a whisk to mix it with the roux. Be sure to press out any lumps. Turn the heat down to low and continue stirring until the mixture has thickened, a couple more minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste. If the gravy is too thick for your tastes, you can thin it by adding more milk, a tablespoon at a time.

Our favorite Meatloaf

Meatloaf seems to incite very strong feelings within my family.

And by that statement, I mean they either love it (Dad, J and Alexander), thoroughly dislike it (Mom), or are completely neutral about it (Sabrina and I).

Because when meatloaf is good, it’s really, really good. And when it’s bad, it’s….. inedible. And believe me, I’ve made my share of inedible meatloaves.

Let’s not talk about it those versions …..

However, after much trial and error, I think I’ve finally nailed it. And even though I don’t have a picture, suffice to say this is the recipe I will keep coming back to again and again.

Our Favorite Meatloaf – adapted from Ina Garten

3 tbs olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup milk
2 tbs. ketchup
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
5-6 slices thick cut bacon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, milk, and ketchup. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don’t mash or the meat loaf will be dense. Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf on a sheet pan covered with foil. Spread the ketchup evenly on top, and lay the bacon slices on top of the ketchup. Bake for 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F and the meat loaf is cooked through.