"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chicken fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes

A few days ago, Mr. Hairball and I were discussing what to have for dinner tonight and what we have on the freezer to work with. I told him that we have some chicken tenders, some hamburger, a ginormous beef brisket, some smoked sausage, and some tenderized round steak aka cube steak. (Can you tell that Mr. Hairball is a huge carnivore?)

Mr. Hairball remarks that he feels that his blood has just been screaming through his arteries lately and asked what could we do to slow it down? I said that I could make some chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy like Mama Hairball makes. His eyes lit up as he said that sounded great. So the decision was made that we would have chicken fried steak for Monday night's dinner.

Foods can be called by different names in different places, so here's a link to exactly what I mean by chicken fried steak.

What I'm making is about 85% Hairball family recipe and 15% Hairball likes to try new things.

First, we need some potatoes.

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This is approximately two pounds of potatoes. [Probably more like three!] Some of them are obviously red and some of them are supposed to be Yukon golds. You will soon see that the "Yukon golds" look pretty pale inside instead of that nice gold color. Very different from all the Yukon golds I've cooked with in the past. I did wonder if they were really white potatoes while cutting them up.

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Here they are all scrubbed and cut up with about 6 cloves of peeled garlic in with them. (I don't normally peel potatoes when I make mashed potatoes.) Notice how white they look. Here's a picture of a Yukon gold for comparision.
I recently watched an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef where Anne Burrell made some yummy looking mashed potatoes and decided to incorporate some of her ideas.

I also washed and tore up some lettuce so Mr. Hairball could have a salad. I'm kinda burned out on salads right now so I had broccoli instead.

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The one on the left is skim milk and an egg and the one on the right is flour, salt, black pepper, and some garlic powder. You dip the tenderized round steak or cube steak into the flour then the egg and then back in the flour again.

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Here's the steaks ready to be fried. It's in black and white because I opened the package ONto the sheet pan and there is some blood visible. I know some people like Mr. Hairball have a very low squick threshold regarding blood so I thought it best to be "artistic" and make it a black and white picture.

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Here are the steaks in the pan frying away. Now this gonna be squicky for some of you! When you see blood coming to the surface of the meat, it's time to turn them over and let them cook on the other side.

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Sorry about the size. Hope no one has nightmares about a giant piece of chicken fried steak chasing them! Don't flip out about the black spots. Small portions of the crust will fall off from one batch and remain in the pan and adhere to later batches. Since they've been around so long they will be quite dark. This piece is a good color to shoot for while frying your steaks.

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I boiled the potatoes until they were tender, drained off the water, and added a stick of butter to the pan. Then, I warmed up about 6-8 ounces of fat-free half and half ( I didn't realize that I bought the fat free version) for about 45 seconds in the microwave and added it to the pot with the potatoes, garlic, and butter. Anne did her potatoes with a food mill but I don't have one so just mashed them up with a potato masher and stuck a lid on them while I was making the gravy and nuking some frozen broccoli.

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I am not the world's best gravy maker so I'm always a little nervous when it's time to make the gravy. I poured out all but about 2-3 tablespoons of oil and added the seasoned flour left over from the meat. I didn't have that much seasoned flour leftover so I added a little more flour to the pan. Then I stirred and let it cook until the color got to this stage.

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I added in some fat-free half and half and stirred until smooth and let it cook until it reached the thickness that I prefer. It will get thicker as it cools so keep that in mind.

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Here's Mr. Hairball's plate minus his salad. He made up a vinaigrette (not vinegar-ette Sandy!) and mashed up some of the purple basil from our Aerogarden with some coarse sea salt and mixed that INto his vinaigrette. I didn't see everything he put in but I know it had red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper and the aforementioned purple basil.

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Mr. Hairball

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Here's my plate. I was starving and did eat every bit of this!
The fat-free half and half did add a little sweetness to the gravy and potatoes but, can I just tell you? It was very good. [If you have any chicken fried steak left, pop those babies on a sheet pan and place in a 350F oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or so. When you open your oven, you should hear sizzling. Cut into one and make sure it's good and hot. If you still have taters and gravy left, you can heat those up in the microwave or on the stove. The gravy will need some milk/cream/whatever stirred INto it to thin it back out. If you don't have any taters left then how about a nice hot chicken fried steak sandwich?]

Almost forgot, here's a picture of some 100% whole wheat bread I made today.

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I'm bummed that it has those bumpy things on the top. I cut into the bread and sampled some, and the bread is quite good even with the bumps. Mr. Hairball kept pointing at the bread and saying [Arnold Schwarzenegger] it is not a tumor [/Arnold Schwarzenegger] until I kicked him out of the kitchen. *rolls eyes*

[edited to add: The bread is very tasty! Here is the recipe I used.}

Happy Birthday Rosie Hawthorne!!!

Rosie Hawthorne of Kitchen's are Monkey Business is having a birthday today! Whoot!

Hoping your day is f'ntastic and that no one gives you a birthday cake from Grandma Lorraine, a plate of cat poo truffles, or a champagne cake with disco balls on top.

Rachael Ray helps out with the corn

I must still be twelve on the inside as this had me cracking up!
Thanks to Food Network Humor for the video.