58. Chicken Fried Steak (The Culinary Equivalent of Sweatpants)

17 Jan

Photo by goldbirds, Flickr Creative Commons

What could be better than a tender, fire-kissed slab of steak? Hello! A battered and deep fried slab of steak. Before you start thinking that Southern folks dunk a big ole T-bone into tempura, I should say that the sort of steak that’s chicken fried is actually cube steak. I couldn’t tell you why a pounded-flat piece of beef is called “cube.” I, myself, have learned to live with the mystery.

When dining in the South, you’ll rarely see a chicken fried steak served without its three bffs, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits. However, when it comes to gravy, there are two distinct camps: white gravy folks and brown gravy folks. Both argue that their version is the only “true” Southern gravy. I really don’t see why it matters. I mean, has any Southerner ever turned down gravy of any kind? (Apart from my brother’s dyed-green Christmas gravy, which accompanies his dyed-red mashed potatoes.)

For me, there’s no better comfort food than chicken fried steak. So it’s probably for the best that you can’t really get “authentic” chicken fried steak around these parts. Case in point: One of my friends from Mississippi was passing through town, and we went to the Icon Grill where I’ve enjoyed many a delicious meal. But…Ricky opted for the chicken fried steak. I think I warned him “I do not think that word means what you think it means…” Sure enough, his plate arrived, and we both stared at it going “hmmmm,” not to be confused with “mmmmm.” It didn’t really resemble any CFS I’ve ever encountered, besides which it was served with chow chow. Even if chow chow is supposedly a Southern delicacy, I’ve never actually seen it in person, much less tried it. I should mention that I greatly enjoyed my meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Photo by the delightful homesicktexan.blogspot.com

Some Southern restaurants serve not only chicken fried steak, but also chicken fried chicken, which sounds like it was named by the department of redundancy department. But no! These are completely different dishes (except that they’re both fried and are also both chicken). Regular fried chicken is served on the bone whereas chicken fried chicken is a boneless breast that’s been pounded flat in the manner of the above-mentioned sirloin. However, I should point out that it’s not called cube chicken. I don’t think it has a name it all, so let’s call it Tweety.

If any of my fellow Southern expats know where to get a good chicken fried steak in Seattle, please let me know. And for all my MS peeps, I’d love to hear about your favorite CFS joint. Caution: if you say that you, yourself, make the best CFS around, I will show up at your place for dinner (aka supper). Not today…not tomorrow…but someday…

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12 Responses to “58. Chicken Fried Steak (The Culinary Equivalent of Sweatpants)”

  1. 4myskin January 26, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    I really want a Chicken Fried Steak now, even if it’s the “wannabe” kind.

    • girloutofdixie January 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

      Just tread carefully. A friend of mine ordered chicken fried steak at a diner recently, and it was pretty sad. Looked like it came straight out of the freezer with some puke yellow goo on top. Eek!

  2. delightfuleccentric January 26, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Thursdays in school were “Chicken Fried Steak Day.” That’s where I developed my life-long addiction to it. And I prefer white gravy, TYVM.

    • girloutofdixie January 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      It would be so awesome to know that I could look forward to chicken fried steak every Thursday. Think we could institute this nationally?

  3. portlandsfunnygirl January 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Love your blog, makes me chuckle. I’ve been dating a southern transplant myself and I have to say my easily my top three fav things of his is his southern cooking. He actually just made Chicken Fried Steak for me the first time last week. He couldn’t believe either that I had only eaten it once, when I was 9 years old on a trip in Arizona (yeah he gave me that same weird look too). I have to say it was REALLY good. 🙂 If I can ever convince him to open up a restraunt here in Portland, I’ll invite you for a free meal lol. That or maybe I can convince FedEx to ship up a box of CFS, but warning…. product may be cold. 😛 lol jk

    • girloutofdixie January 30, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      So glad you like my blog!

      I won’t ask what the other two of your top three things of his are. 😉

      I’d happily accept a box of CFS, no matter what the temperature. I’ll have a pre-heated oven standing by. Just in case.

  4. luvscatsva January 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Gravy- it’s all good- white, brown, onion. Well, maybe not green.

    • girloutofdixie January 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

      Agreed! Though I probably shouldn’t admit that I’ve never tried red-eye gravy…

  5. Tricia January 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    White gravy all the way on CFS! If you can find a Cracker Barrel restaurant, theirs is probably the best I’ve found eating out.

    Tricia
    Boaz, AL

    http://www.triciagilliland.wordpress.com

    • girloutofdixie January 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      Looks like the closest one to Seattle is in Boise, Idaho!

      Oh well.

  6. Mallory Pickering June 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    The cfs from Chili’s is actually pretty good.

    • Kim Holloway June 10, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks for the tip!

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