Saturday, February 20, 2010

I had to ask...

So my husband gets home yesterday from a long 12 hour shift, and I ask him, "Honey, do you want chicken fried steak or Chicken and Wild Rice soup for supper?" He thinks for about 5 seconds and says, "Both!" LOL I had to ask... So I got to work! Now you may ask yourself, "Why does she spoil this man? Surely he knows he can't have his cake and eat it too?" But you have to know him to appreciate him. If there has ever been a man in the history of humanity that deserves spoiling, it's my husband. The man brings me flowers for no reason at all, is always kind and patient, changes dirty diapers without being asked, works hard so that I can be a full time mom, and spoils me to no end! I'll cook for that man any day and time! :)

 I've already shared my soup recipe, so I thought I'd share my secrets to awesome chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. I am a fan of a thick, crunchy crust on my CF steak. There are different thoughts on this matter, so I'm just letting you know my perspective. I've eaten my fair share of heavily battered, beer battered, and barely battered CF steak. A few years ago I used my scientific side to try to develop a superior method for making the best CF steak. I wanted a crust that was fluffy and crunchy, meat that is tender and juicy, and seasoning that is there but not over powering. You'll see the ingredients and think, well this is what I do. However it's all in the technique, so read along carefully and try it. I'm sure you'll love the results!

Lara's Chicken Fried Steak

1.5 pounds tenderized cube steak, cut into desired portion sizes
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup homemade bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Emeril's Essence (divided)
Canola oil

In wide shallow bowl, whisk 2 eggs and add milk and 1 teaspoon of seasoning. In another wide shallow bowl, combine flour, bread crumbs, and remaining seasoning. Preheat about 1/2" to 3/4" of oil in a large frying pan. Test to see if a drop of egg wash sizzles vigorously when dropped in oil. If it does, the oil is hot enough. Dip steak in egg wash, then coat generously with flour mixture. Set aside. Just before you put the steak in the hot oil, dip each battered steak into the egg wash again. Then place in hot oil and cover with a tight fitting lid. Fry 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy.  

The purpose of dipping the steaks in the egg wash before frying is two-fold. First, the egg wash will cause the crust to brown and seal quickly, preventing the problem of the crust sticking to the bottom of the pan. Secondly, it will cause the crust to seal in the juices of the steak, producing a crusty, juicy CF steak. The self-rising flour helps the crust be light and fluffy, and the addition of bread crumbs was done once out of desperation because I ran out of flour. Now I'll do it no other way! :) Sometimes the best things come out of desperate circumstances! To make my bread crumbs, I just use left over french bread or other dense, crusty bread. I let it sit out and dry for a couple of days. Then slice and process in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Store in an air tight container in the freezer.

Now what would CF steak be without mashed potatoes? Sad, I tell you! But before I reveal my method for fluffy mashed potatoes, I have to reveal something about myself. I am Tim Taylor's twin sister. I am a chick that loves power tools! Maybe it comes from my days as a child spent at my Dad and Paw's side in their shop taking apart engines and operating the cutting torch. I was a major tom boy. Now don't get me wrong... I spent lots of time at my Mom and Granny's side learning to cook, sew, quilt, and embroider, but I love to build and sometimes destroy things. So how does this relate to mashed potatoes, you ask? My Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer! I absolutely LOVE it! I use it any chance I get. Each time I crank it up, I feel a guttural Tim-the-Tool man grunt ensuing. Muahh hahhh hahhh!

Lara's Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

2-3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk (approx.)
1 stick butter
Sea Salt to taste

Boil potatoes in a large pot covered with about an inch of water. Add 1 Tablespoon butter as the water begins to boil. This will keep the foam at a minimum and prevent boiling over. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and place in mixer bowl. Add 1 stick of butter and allow to melt. Add sour cream and mix on 4 for about 2 minutes. Begin adding milk about 1/4 cup at a time. Continue beating potatoes for 3-4 minutes, adding milk as needed. The goal is to have fluffy, moist potatoes. Depending on the type of potato used, the amount of milk varies as different potatoes hold different amounts of water. Season with salt to taste. Enjoy!

This recipe makes a generous amount of mashed potatoes. I make this amount for just my husband and I as my picky 7 year-old will not eat anything mashed. The next day, mix about 3 cups of mashed potatoes with an egg and 1/4 cup of flour and fry with a small amount of vegetable oil until crisp little patties fill your platter. Then dive in! YUM! Just like Granny used to make. If you love it, feed it. So keep lovin' and keep cookin'.



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