Welcome to Texas.
Chicken fried streak is one of those foods I have always eaten, remember eating as a child as far back as I can recall, and will continue to eat for just about ever. However, I have never made or watched being made this favorite food of mine. Until last night. I now proudly can say that I mastered the art of the chicken fried steak. (This mastery is actually very dangerous. Now that I know I can make it, what's to stop me from eating one of my all-time favorite foods ALL THE TIME? Oh wait, those little things called pants. I like it when mine are not tight. So, dear chicken fried steak, you will remain a very rare meal, and I will love you all the more because of it.)
For those of you who do not know, chicken fried steak is a piece of meat that has been thinned, either with the butcher's tenderizer machine or by hand. Typically, the meat of choice is a cheap cut. The meat is then dipped in flour, egg, and flour again and pan fried in a cast iron skillet. The resulting fried piece of meaty goodness is served lathered in cream gravy (I had the opportunity to be brave and try this dish in the north one time - it was served with brown gravy - gross, and totally unacceptable) with mashed potatoes and a vegetable of some sort on the side.
Now, there are many recipes that claim they are the perfect blend of seasonings on the meat, in the eggs, and in the flour mixture. It's all a matter of taste. In our particular recipe, we used garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne in the flour, and sirracha, buttermilk, salt, and pepper in the egg. We fried in canola oil. Likewise, there are many recipes for gravy out there, but in the matter of proper cream gravy, there really is only one set of ingredients. Anything else, and you start to move away from cream gravy and in the direction of "sauce" that is not cream gravy.
For the chicken fried steak:
Heat your canola oil (or shortening, or whatever oil) in a cast iron skillet. You need about 1/4 inch of oil. It is important that the oil not cover the tops of the steaks when they are in the skillet or they will get mushy. Oil should be heated to between 325 and 375. If your meat is cold and has not been resting on the counter for awhile, closer to 375 works the best, but if it's smoking it's too hot and you need to start over.
Take your meat pieces and salt and pepper them.
Combine in one large bowl 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon each cayenne and fresh ground black pepper and mix all together. In another large bowl, beat 3 eggs, 1/2 cup buttermilk, salt, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon sirracha. Dip the steaks first in the flour and shake off the excess, then dip in the egg mixture, turning to coat.
Dip back into the flour mixture and do not shake the excess. Place gently into the hot oil and cook, turning once, about 5 minutes after you place it in the pan.
You want a brown crunchy texture. Put them in the oven, on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to catch the oil drips) heated to 200 degrees, to keep them warm while you make the gravy.
So, for the gravy:
Save some pan drippings from the chicken fried steak, about 2-3 tablespoons. Heat that in a small saucepan. Combine 2 tablespoons soft butter with 2 tablespoons flour. Add 1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk to the saucepan with the drippings and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (if you don't the gravy will burn to the bottom of the pan). Add your roux a little at a time, stirring until each bit is dissolved. You may not need all of the roux to get it to desired thickness. Taste, and add your salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes and chicken fried steak.
As required, we ate our steaks with mashed potatoes and broccoli.