Chicken Fried Steak With Sausage Gravy

We spent last Saturday afternoon at a street fair in Fountain Hills AZ. It was wonderful time; the streets were filled with food vendors, artists and other miscellaneous Chicken Fried Steakbooths with interesting items for sale, along with a beer garden or two. We picked up a few things here and there – mainly some salsa and spices, most of these small vendors use fresh ingredients and have pretty good product. There were two companies I really liked and brought home some items from both their shops, Natura Spice Company out of Scottsdale AZ and Starlight Herb and Spice Company out of Idaho. Both have great spices and I would recommend giving them a try if you every get the opportunity.

So the reason I bring up spices is because of the number one problem I find with most foods when we eat out, and that is the lack of spices. One of the vendors there had what they were calling fresh Alaskan salmon; honestly I was kind of pumped to give it a try, especially when I saw the Salmon Chowder. We split a bowl and it had large chunks of salmon in it with some other good flavors, but it was lacking the basic seasoning like salt and pepper that would have made that dish so much better.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my brother, the Executive Chef, or the countless hours of food network, it’s always taste your food and add those basic spices like salt and pepper.

This dish is one of my all-time favorites for both breakfast and dinner, but if you don’t season it or the gravy properly – you get just a bland meal.

Seasoned Flour

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What you will need:

  • 2 Cubed steaks pounded thin
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour (seasoned)
  • 2 Eggs beaten (seasoned with S&P)
  • Frying Oil (peanut or other high temp oil)Seasoned Chicken Fried Steak
  • Green onion or flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper

Seasoned Flour

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. saltFrying Chicken Fried Steak
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • ¼ tbsp. cayenne or some red pepper flakes

Prep

In a shallow frying pan heat up about 2 inches of the frying oil over medium to medium high heat. While the oil is heating up, take your cube steak and pass if through the flour, then egg then flour mixture. You will want to repeat this process for as many steaks as you are cooking.

Cook

Once the oil is nice and hot, but not smoking, you will want to carefully lay the steaks in the pan and shallow fry them. It should takChicken Fried Steake about 4-6 minutes per side depending on how hot your oil is. Keep an eye on them as they will burn quickly. Once both sides are browned place them on a paper towel to drain off the grease and serve with your favorite gravy. Nothings better than a good sausage gravy in my mind and you can find a good one at my county sausage gravy recipe.

Enjoy

Bolognese Sauce

 

What you will need:

 

  • 16 large red tomatoes, stems removed (you can substitute with 4-8 cans stewed tomatoes but it just isn’t the same)
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped
  • ½ cup bell peppers or 4 baby bell peppers, chopped (I will usually by a bag of the baby bell peppers, they typically last for a full week and I can us a couple at a time without cutting a half large pepper and wasting the rest, plus they are great to snack on)
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 9 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil (2 tbsp. dried can be substituted)
  • ¼ cup fresh oregano (2 tbsp. dried can be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano for ground beef seasoning
  • 1 lb. ground hamburger meat (80/20)-if you want get creative ground lamb or veal gives a great flavor
  • 4 links hot Italian sausage (you can use mild or sweet if you prefer) – Remove sausage from the casing, and crumble
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 cup red wine (I typically keep a bottle of cheap red wine in the kitchen, works great as a base for a sauce with steak)
  • Salt and Pepper (I prefer kosher salt, the crystals are larger and helps to stop you from over salting food)

 

**Caveman Tip: I like to make this sauce on a Saturday or Sunday because it leaves me with great leftovers for a lunch and dinner during the week. Not only that but I am able to freeze some of the left over sauce for some quick and easy pasta meals the next week.

 

Prepare – grill style

 

Heat the grill to low heat.  We’re staying with propane on this one; it’s just quicker and less messy.  Remove stems from all 16 tomatoes and cut them in half.  Brush with EVOO, salt and pepper.  Once grill is warm, place the halved tomatoes cut side down on well-oiled grill for about 5 minutes or until soft. They should have some char marks but not burnt.   **Caveman Tip: Grilling the tomatoes not only makes them easier to peel for our sauce, but it also gives them that caveman zest!  Removing the skin from the tomatoes helps to reduce the bitter flavor.

 

 When tomatoes are warm, remove them from grill and let cool.   Once the tomatoes are cool, remove the skin.  

 

Prepare the base

 

In a large stock pan, coat with EVOO and begin to sauté the onions, bell peppers, carrot, garlic, and celery over medium heat.  Add 2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper.  Sauté until almost soft, then go ahead and add the baby bella mushrooms and fresh basil (or dried). Sauté until everything is soft and smelling good.  Remove entire mixture from pan (do not get rid the pan’s leftover goodness!) and put into a large bowl. 

 

 Cook

 

 Using the same stock pan (with the leftover goodness) add a small amount of EVOO to coat the pan and on medium high heat, add the ground hamburger meat (or veal or lamb). Season the meat with salt, pepper, dried oregano and brown it.  Remove the meat from the pan and place in the same bowl as your sautéed base mixture.  There might be a little liquid in the pan just dump that but don’t scrape it you want all those bits and pieces to carry over to the next process

 

 Add another thin layer of EVOO to the bottom of the pan and add the crumbled hot Italian sausage, brown it over medium high heat.  You will begin to see goodness on the bottom of the pan…that’s all Bolognese goodness flavors for later!  Once it’s brown remove the sausage from the pan and add it to the bowl containing your other ingredients. 

 

 Still on medium heat, pour the red wine into the same pan.  Deglaze the pan.  (Use a metal spatula to scrape all the ‘sausage goodness’ off the bottom of the pan & into the liquid).  Continue to cook until the wine has reduced by half.   (This only takes a few minutes)

 

While your wine is reducing remove the core from your tomatoes.  (the core is the white tough membrane located in the middle of your tomatoes. I just pull it out with my hands) Then, chop your tomatoes.  **Caveman Tip: I like to use a food processor to chop my tomatoes on a pulse setting for a few seconds.  Though it’s one extra thing to clean, but it saves a big mess for cavewoman to clean up.

 

 Once the wine has reduced, add your chopped tomatoes to the large stock pan.  Combine your (base) vegetable mixture, hamburger, and sausage to the pan.  At this time, go ahead and add your oregano.  Bring mixture to a rolling boil (this is not a fierce boil, but more of a light boil).    Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer stirring occasionally.

 

Simmer, and let the flavors “marry”

 

 At this point, the goal is to let the liquid reduce.  This can take 1-2 hours.  I like to keep it over a medium to medium low heat stirring occasionally. You don’t want the solid ingredients to burn on the bottom of the pan; it will result in a bitter flavor to your sauce.   **Caveman Tip:  If you are familiar with my recipes or my style, you know what I’m going to say here…Frequently taste your liquid mixture and make sure you like the flavor.  Just remember this flavor will take a while to start developing

 

 It will take about an hour for the meat and vegetable flavors to ‘marry’ into the sauce and begin to sweeten it up.  After this point – you can add ingredients as needed for your liking (be aware of salt if eating this sauce with noodles or parmesan cheese!  There is plenty of salt in those 2 items) Pepper, dried oregano or basil depending on your preference. If you like a little sweeter sauce, add a tablespoon of brown sugar or honey but be careful not to add too much because as it cooks for the last hour the sausage, carrots and onions will continue to sweeten the sauce.

 

If you like more of a tomato flavor in your sauce (after you’ve simmered an hour), feel free to add a tablespoon of tomato paste.  I prefer that fresh flavor, so I steer away from this. Plus – most cavemen like meat – and we are looking for that wonderful essence in a Bolognese sauce.

 

 Continue to simmer mixture up to another hour, tasting occasionally.  If you feel the sauce is too thick, you can add a little vegetable stock to thin it out; but most likely it will need to reduce more.   

 

 Once your kitchen smells amazing and your sauce tastes marvelous, it’s ready to eat.  I like to pour over pasta, but you can get creative depending on what you’re making it for.  Always taste your sauce and make sure you like it before serving it to others!!

 

I like to take the leftovers and put them in individual containers and freeze them; this allows me to pull out a portion at a time when I want a quick meal.

 

 **Side Note: To make things a little interesting sometimes I like to add a cup of store bought salsa to the sauce it gives the dish a little southwest flare to mix things up.

 

 

 

 

Country Sausage Gravy

Country Sausage Gravy – (the real stuff)

Here are the first things you need, pull them out of your pantry and let’s get started.

1lb breakfast sausage, not lean because you need all that fat.

Worcestershire Sauce – dash or two

Tabasco – dash or two (if you like a little spice in your food as I do, then use a few dashes of Tapatio or cholula.

1/3 cup whole wheat flour, (you can use all purpose flour also)

4 to 6 cups of milk (whole milk or 2% is fine, this cavemen never uses 1% or fat free)

Let’s put it all together

In a good size skillet brown the sausage over medium heat, you want to get some good color on that sausage. Once the outside is browned reduce heat to medium low and add 1/3 cup whole wheat flour stirring to incorporate. You want the flour to coat the sausage and blend into any fat that was produced by the sausage.  Now add your Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.  Continue to brown at a medium low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, the longer the flour cooks the darker your gravy will be.

Now taste a small piece of the sausage, there should be no, let me repeat that, NO, flour taste to the sausage, if there is, cook it a couple minutes longer.  If you want to add anything now is the time, be creative try things, just remember try them in small amounts.    Taste it again, ok, we are ready to add the milk.   Start with 3 to 4 cups of milk, you can always add more, but it’s harder then hell to take it out.   This will seem very watery right now so turn the heat up to medium and bring it to a slow bubble while stirring constantly,  this will enable it to thicken.  I like my gravy on the thicker side, but if you like a smoother, slightly thinner gravy add more milk, just remember, a  1/2 cup at a time.  As the gravy bubbles it will continue to thicken..

Your gravy is almost there,  now taste it again.  Yea, I know it’s a little bland right?    Add your Kosher salt and pepper to taste, I like a good pinch of each, now my pinch is about 1/2 tsp.  Give it a good stir to incorporate that salt and taste it again, if you used more milk you may need more salt.   Continue to simmer a few more minutes, if gravy gets to thick add milk.

Only word of advice, you can always add salt at the end, but you can’t take it out.    Now slice those biscuits and add that gravy, or ladle it over a chicken fried steak.  Let me know what you think.