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If you had to name an “official dish” of Oklahoma, where the PGA Championship is taking place this week, chicken fried steak would make a good candidate.
This hearty concoction, featuring breaded and fried beef smothered in a velvety sauce, is a staple at roadside stops and grills across the state. Taste everything you like. You won’t find a better version than the one served up by Chef Geoff van Glabbeek and his team at Cedar Ridge Country Club in South Tulsa.
What are the finer points of chicken fried steak? We asked Van Glabbeek to walk us through the basics, just in time for dinner after Sunday’s final run. We’ve also included her full recipe below.
The meat of matter
Cube steak is the classic cut used in chicken fried steak. This is Van Glabbeek’s rendezvous. But if you can’t find it, he suggests buying a round steak and asking your butcher to tenderize it for you. Not yet soft enough for your taste? Try marinating the meat in buttermilk for a few hours, with a sprinkle of Tabasco for added flavor. For a black-tie version of chicken fried steak, you can switch to tenderloin, Van Glabbeek’s choice for special occasions.
A hot iron game
When preparing a chicken fried steak for a large crowd, Van Glabbeek sometimes uses a deep fryer. But his preferred method is on the stovetop, in a cast iron skillet, which retains heat better than a stainless steel pan. It is firmly opposed to an air fryer.
“I know they’re popular,” he says. “But it’s just not the same thing.”
Work better with the dough
Dredging and piling can be a messy job. Van Glabbeek recommends dividing up the work, using one hand for dredging and the other for dripping, so both don’t get covered in flour.
“It’s not as important when you’re only making a few steaks,” he says. “But when you expand it, it saves you time, flour and headaches.”
When you take your hot chicken steak out of the pan, don’t let it cool while you prepare the sauce. Keep it in a warming drawer or in the oven on low until you’re ready to garnish it.
Chef Van Glabbeek’s Chicken Fried Steak Recipe
4 cube steaks, 4 to 6 ounces each
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons of butter
For the sauce:
1/4 cup flour
2 to 3 cups of milk
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a shallow bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. In a second shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, granulated garlic and smoked paprika.
One steak at a time, season the meat with a touch of salt and pepper and place it in the seasoned flour. Turn to coat. Place meat in milk mixture, turning to coat. Then return the meat to the flour mixture and coat it again. After the second layer of flour, place the breaded steak on a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining steaks.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the butter. If the butter thickens, you know the pan is hot enough (if the butter browns immediately, the pan is too hot). Place two pieces of floured meat in the pan and cook until the edges begin to brown, flip and repeat for the other side. This should take 2-3 minutes per side. Place the cooked meat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Add the rest of the butter to the skillet and cook the rest of the floured meat.
For the sauce:
Pour the fat into a heatproof container. Add 1/4 cup fat to skillet and heat over medium heat.
Sprinkle the flour evenly over the oil. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the fat to create a paste. Continue to cook and stir the roux until it reaches a golden brown color.
Pour in 2 cups of milk, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then continue cooking, whisking, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. If the sauce becomes too thick, whisk in more of the remaining milk. Let simmer for at least 5 minutes.
Taste the sauce again and adjust the seasoning before pouring it over the steaks.