Chicken-fried steak is a classic American entrée. First, a beef round steak is either run through a cubing machine or, more traditionally, pounded well with a meat mallet to make the meat tender. It is then breaded and deep fried. The fried steak is served covered in thick, creamy gravy. It is often accompanied by mashed potatoes and even more gravy or steamed veggies. Some restaurants offer a wide variety of sides like biscuits, corn, green beans, fresh salads, or coleslaw to go with the dish.
It is well-known that the culinary hero of Texas is the chicken-fried steak, but have you ever wondered where it came from? The history of the dish is just as amazing as its flavor. Although the exact origin of the dish is debatable, here is a chronological history of chicken-fried steak:
Chicken-fried steak seems to have been developed by the German immigrants who settled in Texas from 1844–1850. One popular German delicacy is Wiener schnitzel, a breaded and fried veal dish. However, beef was popular in Texas, so the immigrants may have adapted their favorite dish with the available beef cuts, resulting in what we now call chicken-fried steak. The name “chicken-fried steak” came around in the 1930s, likely alluding to the popular comfort food, batter-fried chicken. It wasn’t until the end of World War II that it became a common name for the dish.
The dish is known by various names around the world, but the culture associated with chicken-fried steak is characteristic of regional pride. In April of 1988, the state of Oklahoma announced the official state meal, which includes chicken-fried steak, barbecue pork, fried okra, corn, sausages and gravy. In 2011, October 26th was declared “Chicken-Fried Steak Day” by the Texas House of Representatives.
This popular Southern comfort food is not only served in diners but is a common feature in five-star restaurants. As tradition demands, it is still most commonly prepared with tenderized beef cuts, though sometimes with tenderloin or rib eye. Today, this battered steak is enjoyed all over the U.S., but the best chicken-fried steak is still found in Texas and Oklahoma, naturally.