21 March 2010

An awesome lunch

Today, the wife and I decided to enjoy a nice lunch of cube steak and gravy with mashed potatoes and baked mac & cheese. I had never made gravy from scratch before (I was always too worried that I would screw up the roux and never bothered to give it a try), but I found a recipe for chicken fried steak and gravy online and decided to finally get over myself and try to make the gravy.

This recipe came from Alton Brown of Food Network fame. I added a twist to it which I will cover later, but this is one kick-ass meal.

  • 2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms*

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices. Season each piece on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Place the eggs into a separate pie pan. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour. Tenderize the meat, using a needling device, until each slice is 1/4-inch thick. Once tenderized, dredge the meat again in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch slope-sided skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a wire rack set in a half sheet pan and place into the oven. Repeat until all of the meat is browned.

Add the remaining vegetable oil, or at least 1 tablespoon, to the pan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the flour left over from the dredging (or use new flour if you prefer). Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add the milk and thyme and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

* - To make this recipe even more kick-ass:

Saute the mushrooms prior to cooking the steaks and set aside. After the gravy thickens, put the mushrooms in the gravy and turn to low heat. Place the steaks in the gravy and cook for about 5 minutes. [But not too long, because the steaks will get too tough.]

Also, I bought cube steaks instead of bottom round because I was too lazy to go through slicing, tenderizing, and needling pieces of bottom round when it's pretty much the same thing anyway.

And for those of you who are wondering: the gravy was a success and I only had to make the roux once. In the end I learned that it's not as hard as I thought it would be, and if there is a moral to this story, it's this: Don't talk yourself out of trying something because you think you can't do it. If you do, you may cheat yourself out of a myriad of wonderful opportunities, including some delicious gravy.

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