Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Husband Sort of a Meal

Tonight I made Country Fried Steak and Smashed Baked Potatoes with Gravy. It isn't the kind of meal that I made very often for a couple of reasons. First of all it isn't very healthy and second, well it isn't very healthy. I guess that's just one reason, but it's so important that it feels like it should be two.

I took a ton of pictures, mostly because this recipe isn't terribly exact when it comes to amounts. So here we go with the ingredients.

Smashed Baked Potatoes

3-4 Medium sized baked potatoes, these were baked 3 days ago.
1/3 c. Milk
1/3 c. Sour Cream
1/4 c. Butter
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Country Fried Steak

4 cube steaks, roughly 1-1.25 lbs.
1.5 c + 4 T All-Purpose Flour
1/2 c Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 Large Eggs
3 T water
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
1/2 c Oil for cooking
6 T Bacon Grease, if you don't save this you can do it without, but it tastes so much better with.
2 c Milk

Preheat the oven to 350*. Cut the potatoes in half.

Scoop out or peel the potatoes and place them into an oven safe pan.

Use a fork to mash to potatoes, you aren't going for really smooth just mostly smashed up.

Add the milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix well. Taste it while you are doing this, you will probably need more salt and pepper than you think.

Cut the butter into 1/4 in cubes and mix in.

Cover and bake for 15 min. Take out and stir in the melted butter bake uncovered for another 15 min. Shockingly enough this is the amount of time it takes to cook the Country Fried Steak. Isn't it cool how that works out.

In three separate container mix the following coating mixtures.

1) 1c. flour with 1t sea salt and a good amount of black pepper, don't under season there is nothing worse than a flavorless coating.

2) 2 large eggs and 3T water, whip up well it should be uniform in color and thickness.

3) 1/2 c flour and 1/2 c Italian bread crumbs

In a large skillet start heating the oil. Use about 2 T of bacon grease and enough oil to have about 1/8 - 1/4 inch in the bottom of the pan. Heat this over medium heat, not too hot or you will burn your steaks instead of having the gorgeous golden coating.

I cut the cube steaks in half so that I have 8 pieces that are 2-3 oz a piece. Then coat them in this order. Flour, egg, then breadcrumb mixture. Personally I like to only coat what will fit into the pan at one time, so I usually coat them 2 or 3 at a time.

Carefully place your coated steaks in the pan one at a time, if the oil is the correct temperature it should bubble gently around the edges as it goes in. If there is no bubbling your heat is too low, if it is snapping and popping then it is too hot.

Cook on one side until you can see the juices coming out the top and the bottom is a golden brown, 3-5 minutes.

Flip over and cook for 3-5 min or until done on both sides.

Remove pieces to a cooling rack with paper towel underneath to catch any excess grease, this will keep them crispy and avoid having them sit and re-absorb and grease that should drain off.
Cook all the pieces that you have.
Once all of the pieces are done you can either remove all of the grease from the pan, I pour mine into a can from the recycling box, then wipe out the pan with a paper towel. If you don't want to do that you can just get a clean pan.
Put 4 T of bacon grease into the pan, if you don't have the bacon grease you can use butter.

Once the grease is melted add 4 T of flour and stir together.

It should look roughly like this, but a little more uniform than mine does. Add a good amount of salt and pepper, again there is nothing worse than under seasoned gravy. Cook for 1 minute to help get rid of the taste of raw flour.

Slowly add milk with one hand while whisking quickly and thoroughly with the other. Gravy reaches it's thickest point when it comes to a boil so make sure that it is boiling before you stop cooking it. You won't have a good idea of how think it will be until it is heated through. Remember to add the milk slowly, you can always thin gravy but it is a huge ordeal to thicken it. I did not get a picture of this part of a process because I don't have three hands.
Plate your dish. I served mine with sweet peas and strawberry iced tea.
Note 1: This gravy recipe is pretty much a general one that you can use for everything. The bacon grease gravy is what I like on biscuits, although DH like sausage gravy which is a little different. It's a tough process to learn but once you do it opens a ton of doors in the kitchen.

Note 2: I know a lot of people think that I am crazy for keeping bacon grease in my fridge, but it is amazingly flavorful and infinitely useful. I don't use it often or in large quantities because it is so high in fat, but I really do think that you should try it. I keep mine in the sugar bowl that came with my dishes.
Note 3: This meal fed 2 very hungry men, me, a tween, and 3 kids.

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