What is Chicken Fried Steak?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
Chicken fried steak is also known as pan fried steak because of its cooking method.
Chicken fried steak is also known as pan fried steak because of its cooking method.

Southern or country style cooking is famous for its fried foods. One popular meal, chicken fried steak, consists of a tender piece of cubed steak, pan fried in seasoned flour. Considered a comfort food for many people, it is typically served with traditional Southern style sides, such as green beans, mashed potatoes, or corn on the cob.

Chicken fried steak is also known as CFS or pan fried steak. If the recipe also features an egg dip during the frying process, it can be referred to as country fried steak. The name of the steak is in regards to its cooking preparations, which are similar to those used to cook fried chicken. In addition to cooking oil, CFS can be cooked in butter, shortening, lard, or other fats.

Milk gravy may be served with chicken fried steak.
Milk gravy may be served with chicken fried steak.

Most chicken fried steak recipes call for the meat to be topped with some sort of gravy. The traditional gravy used is typically made with peppered milk. Different regions may specialize in various types of gravy. Some areas may use brown gravy, or sweet additions such as cinnamon and sugar within the milk gravy.

Some diners may even fry the meal itself within the gravy. Others might top the gravy with garnish items, such as mushrooms or onions. Chipotle or cayenne pepper can be used in spicier gravies, while garlic powder and onion can provide a unique, zesty flavor. Most chefs call for a medium-thin type of gravy. Milk or water can be added to gravy in order to thin it out if necessary.

The breading for chicken fried steak is seasoned with salt and pepper.
The breading for chicken fried steak is seasoned with salt and pepper.

To make basic chicken fried steak, sift together half of one cup (68 grams) of flour and a dash each of salt and pepper. Stir one large egg and two tablespoons (30 milliliters) of water together in a shallow pan. In another dish, pour out three-fourths of one cup (100 grams) of buttermilk baking mix. Coat four half-pound (quarter-kilogram) steaks in each of the three mixtures in successive order.

Many of the best Southern dishes are pan-fried, like liver and onions dredged in spices.
Many of the best Southern dishes are pan-fried, like liver and onions dredged in spices.

Pour a third of one cup (79 milliliters) of vegetable oil into a frying pan over medium heat. Fry each piece of meat in the mixture for four to five minutes per side. Each side should be golden brown and crispy. Once fried, pour any gravy flavor of choice on top of the chicken fried steaks and serve.

In relation to global cuisine, chicken fried steak is very similar to the Austrian meal Wiener Schnitzel. Also known as milanesa in Latin America, and collops in Scotland, schnitzel is similarly fried, and made from beef or veal. Some varieties are also fried with breadcrumbs. It should be noted that some places also refer to Salisbury steak, which consists of chopped beef covered in brown gravy, as country steak.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

Lostnfound

I like chicken fried steak with a brown gravy best. I am not fond of sawmill, or milk gravy, in general. As I've gotten a little older, I don't eat fried foods nearly as often, so when I do, I want them to be really good.

Chicken fried steak is just an occasional treat, but I do like it once a year or so. It's good stuff -especially with mashed potatoes and pinto beans.

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    • Chicken fried steak is also known as pan fried steak because of its cooking method.
      By: cosma
      Chicken fried steak is also known as pan fried steak because of its cooking method.
    • Milk gravy may be served with chicken fried steak.
      By: angorius
      Milk gravy may be served with chicken fried steak.
    • The breading for chicken fried steak is seasoned with salt and pepper.
      By: al62
      The breading for chicken fried steak is seasoned with salt and pepper.
    • Many of the best Southern dishes are pan-fried, like liver and onions dredged in spices.
      By: Lucia Pescaru
      Many of the best Southern dishes are pan-fried, like liver and onions dredged in spices.