A cook-off competitor fries up his best chicken-fried steaks in Lamesa.
The West Texas town of Lamesa, about 60 miles south of Lubbock,serves up its annual Chicken-Fried Steak Festival this weekend in celebration ofÂ the townâ€™s claim as the birthplace of the Texas delicacy. According to local legend, short-order cook James Donald Perkins accidentally made the first dish of its kind in 1911 when he misinterpreted an order for chicken and fried steak at a small restaurant called Ethel's Home Cooking. Instead of making two separate items, he thought the customer wanted a steak battered andÂ fried like a chickenâ€”and what a delicious mistake it turned out to be.
6 c. milk (room temperature), divided
3 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. Meat Seasoning (see recipe below)
2 c. canola oil
8 (6-oz.) tenderized beef cutlets (room temperature)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce, or to taste
Cherry tomatoes (optional)
Savoy cabbage (optional)
Whisk eggs and 2 c. of milk together in a bowl, and set aside. Combine 3 c. of flour and meat seasoning in another bowl, and set aside. Heat oil in a 14-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat (or heat oil to 375° in an electric skillet). The oil should pop loudly when a drop of egg mixture is dropped in.
Dip each cutlet in egg mixture; dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess; and dip again in egg mixture. Gently place cutlets in hot oil. (As you transfer cutlets from egg mixture to skillet, hold a plate under them to catch drips.) Cook 3-5 minutes, until breading is set and golden brown. (There will be regular "explosions" of oil as cutlets cook.) Gently turn cutlets with a long-handled meat fork or long, metal tongs. Cook another 3 minutes.
Carefully remove cutlets from skillet; drain well, reserving cracklings and 1/3-1/2 c. oil in skillet for gravy. Heat reserved oil over medium heat, and sprinkle 1/3-1/2 c. of flour over hot oil. Whisk until mixture becomes a bubbly, golden paste. Whisking as you pour, slowly add remaining 4 c. of milk, and whisk mixture continuously until it is smooth and thick enough to coat a spoon. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce, and whisk until smooth. Top steaks with gravy. For extra color, garnish with cherry tomatoes, Savoy cabbage, and parsley. Yield: 8 servings.