Demystifying Chicken Fried Steak: What Cut of Beef Makes the Best Fried Steak?

As a Texan born and raised, chicken fried steak holds a special place in my heart. That crispy, golden crust coating a tender, juicy beef cutlet – pure comfort food magic! But I’ll let you in on a little secret: chicken fried steak has nothing to do with chicken. It’s 100% pure beef. So what cut of beef gets the chicken fry treatment? Let’s dig into this quintessential Southern dish.

What is Chicken Fried Steak?

First things first – chicken fried steak is definitely not chicken. It’s a thin sliced beef cutlet that gets dredged in flour, dipped in egg then fried until crispy. Some versions are pounded flat before frying while others keep the steak at its natural thickness. The end result is a crunchy exterior encasing a fork-tender beefy interior. Despite the name, it’s all about the beef.

Why is it Called Chicken Fried Steak?

So how did this beefy dish get such a misleading name? There’s a bit of debate around the origin but most agree it likely comes from the method of preparation. Chicken fried steak is made very similarly to friend chicken – dredged in flour egg washed, then fried. The technique used to fry the steak mirrors how fried chicken is made. Hence, chicken fried steak!

What Cut of Beef is Best for Chicken Fried Steak?

Now onto the meat of the matter – what cut of beef makes the best chicken fried steak? You want a cut that is naturally tender thinly sliced and budget friendly. Here are some top options

  • Cube Steak – This is hands-down the most popular and traditional choice. Cube steak is top round or top sirloin that has been tenderized by pounding with a meat mallet or running through a tenderizing machine. This makes it perfect for frying thin.

  • Top Round Steak – Affordable top round can be sliced thin and tenderized to make great chicken fried steak. Pound it out with a mallet before breading.

  • Top Sirloin – Similarly, inexpensive top sirloin can be pounded flat and turned into tasty chicken fried steak.

  • Skirt or Flank Steak – These naturally thin steaks need only a quick pound with a mallet before frying into crispy cutlets.

  • Chuck Steak – Chuck can be on the affordable side and slices nicely when partially frozen for chicken fried duties.

The key is starting with an inexpensive, thin, tender beef cut. Cubed steak may be the classic choice, but other cuts can certainly be pounded, sliced, and tenderized into delicious chicken fried steak.

How to Make Chicken Fried Steak

Once you’ve got your beef cutlet, it’s time for the fun part – frying! Here’s a quick rundown of frying up the perfect chicken fried steak:

  • Pound thin – For cube steak or other thick cuts, use a mallet or tenderizer to flatten about 1/4-inch thick. This allows for even cooking.

  • Season flour – Mix flour with seasoning salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne for flavorful breading.

  • Dip in egg, dredge in flour – Coat steaks in seasoned flour, then wet in beaten egg, and back in the flour.

  • Pan fry – Heat 1/4-inch oil in cast iron skillet to 350°F. Carefully place steaks in oil and fry 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown.

  • Drain on paper towels – Let fried steaks drain on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with a dash more salt.

  • Enjoy! – Dig into these crispy, juicy, beefy cutlets hot and fresh from the skillet.

Chicken fried steak is pure comfort food happiness. With a tender beef cutlet like cube steak and a crispy, seasoned breading, every bite is sure to satisfy. Don’t be fooled by the name – this Southern specialty is all about celebrating delicious fried beef.

How to Make the Perfect Chicken Fried Steak | 50 States, 50 Plates, Oklahoma

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