Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chicken Fried Dreams.

Hello everyone. My name is Violet Séverine and I am a chicken-fried steak junkie. The first step to recovery is admitting that I have a problem. Awww who am I kidding. I've never been much of a quiter and I'm not hurting anyone so screw it. Chicken-fried steak til death!!! So yeah, like I said. I love the stuff. Fried meat smothered in gravy is always a good thing. Fried anything in gravy is delicious. I'd eat a used bandaid if you fried it and covered it in gravy. Perhaps that's the whiskey talking. Anyways, yeah. Did you know that chicken-fried steak has no chicken in it? Also I am sad to tell you that it is not prepared by a chicken either. But don't worry. It is still amazing.

When I was a kid my family would take the occasional Sunday trip to the "family friendly" (aka no diversity allowed) super-Southern meat-fest restaurant the Cracker Barrel (restaurant names don't get more ironic than that folks). They had a strange olde timey store up front where you could buy all kinds of Cracker swag. I would always get some mouth destroying rock candy on a stick and perhaps a coloring book. "Mommy, why are these ghosts riding horses and carrying torches?" Yeah, then we would get seated by our unnaturally smiling waitress and I would always order a chicken-fried steak with fried eggs and hashbrowns. And then maybe an order of biscuits and gravy. Oh and a side of sausage and another side of bacon. And maybe some corned beef hash. I was an insatiable little thing. I could eat 10 lbs. of meat and be happy as a carnivorous clam.

So the other day I was thinking about what makes chicken fried steak so delicious. Is it the steak? The breading? The gravy? Maybe it's the mystery of the chicken? Or perhaps it's the accouterments. If you guessed all of the above you would be correct. I decided I wanted to elevate the classic dish into something more refined (not that it needs any improvements to make it any more glorious but sometimes we must experiment in the name of delicious science). Here's my super fancy version:

"Chicken-Fried" Dried Porcini and Shallot Crusted Sirloin with Veal Demi-Glace and Organic Chicken Egg

(serves 4)
1 package of dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup dried shallots (found at most Asian markets)
1 Tbsp garlic powder
8 organic local farm chicken eggs
4 - 1/2 lb. top sirloin steaks, pounded 1/2 thin with meat tenderizer mallet
1 cup AP flour

2 cups veal demi-glace (I use a classic Escoffier recipe or Larousse Gastronomique or if you don't have the time or patience to make your own you can buy a decent pre-prepared one from D'Artagnan)

kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
celery leaves (for garnish)
Crystal hot sauce
peanut oil for pan frying

Place the porcini mushrooms and dried shallots in a food processor or spice grinder. Pulse until finely ground. In a large bowl mix the ground mixture with the garlic powder and the flour and season well with salt and pepper.

Crack open 4 eggs into a separate bowl and whisk until smooth.

Place a large skillet (preferably a cast iron skillet) over medium high heat. Add enough oil to cover 1" up the sides of the pan.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Using standard breading technique dip the steak into the flour mixture and lightly coat. The dip into the egg to coat. Then back into the flour mixture. Shake off any excess and place into the pan to fry. Pan fry each steak about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove steaks to a paper towel lined plate and let them rest.

While the steaks are cooking heat up the veal demi glace. It should be glossy and luscious and coat the back of a spoon.

Fry the eggs in a little butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon a fair amount of demi-glace on a plate. Place the chicken-fried steak onto the sauce. Top with a fried egg and garnish with celery leaves and hot sauce. Enjoy your fancy version of hillbilly grub and perhaps afterwards go to the opera without any shirt or shoes on and crack open a few beers. Enjoy yourself dammit! xoxo

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