Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Buttermilk Country Fried Steak

It's been a veeeery long couple of days!  I've been lucky enough to have some time off of work.  Normally, I would use that time in the kitchen, but the last few days, we've been helping out a local shopkeeper "clean up" his store.  It's been really fun, but it's exhausting.  It also meant some quick meals.  For some of these meals, we were lucky enough to pull a container out of the freezer and thaw/heat, but we did go out to eat a few times.

The first time, we had breakfast at Denny's.  I found something on the menu that I though sounded good, but when they brought it out, it really wasn't all that appetizing.  I finished about half the meal before I started to feel "not so great".  You think I would have learned my lesson about eating out, but the next day, we grabbed lunch at a fast food place.  Double yuck.  It's amazing how much your taste buds can change when you eat at home more regularly.

After four straight days of working at the shop, I really just wanted to come home tonight and make something quick yet "homestyle".  What I made is not exactly healthy... but it satisfied my need to get in the kitchen and cook.  Plus, it has buttermilk in it!  Everything is better with buttermilk, right?

What resulted was the world's best Buttermilk Country Fried Steak.  It's a very basic recipe.  There are lots of variations on it.  I've tried to make country fried steak many different ways, and this has been the keeper recipe for me.... plus, I get to use the leftover buttermilk in a cookie recipe tomorrow.  Life is good.


Battered on the outside yet moist on the inside, this country fried steak is cooked perfectly!


Ingredients
  • 4 to 6 medium sized cube steaks
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp black pepper + more for seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt + more for seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder + more for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp Tabasco**
  • 2 - 3 cups flour
  • oil for frying


Directions

In a medium sized bowl, combine the baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.  Lightly mix.  In the same bowl, add the buttermilk, egg, and Tabasco.  (**if you like spice, go closer to the 2 Tbsp amount.  I have a non-spice eater, and we use 1 full Tbsp.  You can barely taste the Tabasco. It'll be okay-- I promise!)  Using a whisk, lightly beat the mixture until combined.  It will be somewhat airy/frothy.  Set aside.  Place the 2 - 3 cups flour in a separate, medium sized, shallow bowl.  Set that bowl aside.

In a large frying pan, heat up enough oil (any vegetable based oil is fine) so that a cube steak would be sitting in the oil, but the oil wouldn't cover the cube steak.  Usually, this is a little less than a 1/4 inch of oil on the bottom of the pan.  Heat the oil on medium heat.  Do not overheat the oil.  When the oil is hot, you can start preparing the meat and cooking.

Lightly season both sides of the cube steak with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Then, dredge both sides of the steak in flour, then dip the entire steak in the buttermilk mixture, then generously dredge the steak in the flour again.  This is messy and your fingers will probably become dredged in the mixtures, too!  Immediately (and carefully!) place the dredged meat in the hot oil.  Repeat with the other steaks. Cook approximately 4-6 minutes on each side, carefully flipping the meat over when the coating is a golden brown.  If the coating browns too quickly, your heat is too high.

When the steaks are done, place them on a plate lined with paper towels so the excess oil can be absorbed.  Serve immediately with your favorite sides.  We like to do something quick (like ramen or left over mashed potatoes) since these steaks cook so quickly.


The buttermilk mixture is on the left and the flour is on the right.
 I've already done some dredging, so you can see the mess it left behind.
Two of the steaks frying- this is the second batch, so the oil is a bit cloudy.  The edges are just starting to brown.  Keep an eye on those edges and if they get darker, it's either time to flip or your oil is too hot!


These steaks are about the perfect color!  Don't be alarmed if a bit of the coating comes off when you flip.  It may take some practice to perfect the right amount of coating to put on as well as the exact timing to flip. 

 
So, this meal isn't very fancy, and doesn't take a lot of time, but boy does it taste great!  Don't be afraid to use some seasoning in this-- if you don't use enough, it may be bland. This is one dish where it's hard to season after cooking.  I also think that buttermilk is the "key" ingredient.  I've never tried it with milk-- I imagine that you could (or use vinegar to make your own buttermilk out of milk), but this recipe is so good with real buttermilk that I haven't even wanted to experiment.  My family just goes wild when I make it and swears that it's the only way that cube steaks get moist and tender. 

                                  

2 comments:

  1. It's good to have some comfort food once in a while! A very occasional treat for the soul at slight peril to the arteries is sometimes worth it! But I had to laugh that you had your finished product pictured with canned corn and top ramen. I had to wean my parents off of both canned corn & ramen due to the high sodium (in both) plus high trans fat in ramen.

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    Replies
    1. Point taken, and I actually laughed about that myself when I was photographing it (at the perception) however, one can't make 100% assumptions. I'm blessed to live in a state with plentiful corn, so I buy in bulk and freeze in fall. Also, one can do lots of things with ramen that does not involve using the flavor packet that comes with it. (Although, in this case, I'm guilty as charged.)

      Stay tuned for my next post! I'm taking a traditionally fried dish and baking it instead.

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