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Archive for the tag “beef”

Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy

CFS with mashed potatoes and country gravy.

CFS with mashed potatoes and country gravy.

This is an American diner classic. If you’ve never had chicken fried steak, it’s simply cubed steak that has been breaded and fried. Cubed steak is made from either round or flank steak, both of which are very tough, and this method of cooking can elevate the less than desirable beef to a dish people search for on a diner menu. If you can’t get cubed steak where you live, it’s actually pretty easy to tenderize a flank steak. Of course, a meat tenderizer or mallet is the best tool because it will have the weight and shape necessary to break down the meat fibers. Don’t be afraid to get creative though. A heavy soup can, a sturdy glass bottle, or even a coffee mug can be be used to tenderize the meat. Just remember that you don’t have to use a lot of force. Put wax paper or plastic wrap on both sides of the meat and use just the edge of your improvised tenderizer, raising it only about 2 – 3 inches. 

Ingredients for 4 servings

For steaks

2 large or 4 small cubed steaks

1/2 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp oil

For country gravy

1 tbsp butter – if needed

2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

To start with, you’ll need to prepare the coating for your steaks. Combine the flour, salt and pepper on one plate and mix the egg and milk on another. Thoroughly coat the steaks in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, and then in the flour again. Reserve the extra flour.

Coating mixtures.

Coating mixtures.

You can cook the steaks immediately after you coat them, but it’s better to let them rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes first. If you’ve ever tried to make chicken fried steak before, you are probably familiar with having all the coating come off the steaks and stick in the pan. Letting them rest in the refrigerator will minimize coating loss.

Heat the butter and oil together in a pan. It needs to be very hot before you add the steaks. If you have any extra egg mixture left, try dropping just a bit into the oil and butter. When it’s hot enough, the egg will immediately start to sizzle. Place the steaks in the pan and don’t touch them. If you try to turn them too soon, you will lose the coating. Just keep an eye on the edge of the steak. When it has become well browned, then you can turn them over.

Steaks almost ready to turn.

Steaks almost ready to turn.

The coating on the top will seem to absorb into the steak before you turn it. Don’t worry, after you turn it and cook that side, the coating will crisp up. Ideally, you should only turn your steaks one time. After the steaks stop weeping any blood, they should be cooked through and you can take them out of the pan.

Don’t turn off the heat, we are going to use the oil and butter still in the pan to make the country gravy. At this point you can add extra butter to your pan if too much has been absorbed while cooking the steaks. *If your pan is hot enough, the steaks should hardly absorb any oil. Add the reserved flour mixture to the pan and stir to make a smooth paste. Then just add the milk and additional salt and pepper. The secret to good country gravy is a lot of pepper. Cook the gravy until it thickens and then pour it over your steak and serve.



Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington.

Beef Wellington.

This is definitely not a classic beef wellington. I developed this recipe with creativity and compromise in mind. Traditionally, beef wellington should be made with filet mignon or a full tenderloin. A tenderloin would be too large to cook well in a toaster oven. And the cost and availability of filet mignon lead me to consider possible substitutions. In this example, I used beef country ribs. If you aren’t familiar with country style ribs, they are cut from the rib end of a loin, in the case of pork, or chuck roll, in the case of beef. Country ribs usually have a lot of marbling and may need to be trimmed. They are also cut in a different direction as you can see from the picture. As far as cheap cuts of meat go, this one is probably the best substitute for filet as far as fork tenderness goes because of the grain direction. The most important thing to understand is that you can exchange the cut of meat. Just look for something that has some marbling,you know is not too tough and is single-portion sized. Examples of tough meats to avoid are skirt and hangar steaks. If you’re feeling really creative, you can even exchange the filet for fish or tofu if you’re vegetarian!

Once you’ve chosen your meat, the preparation is actually very simple.

Ingredients for 5 servings

1 tbsp butter or oil

5 pieces of chosen meat

1/2 onion – chopped

1 portion puff pastry dough – thawed

1 full batch spinach pesto 

The first step is to sear the meat. (If you are using fish, tofu or any other quick-cooking protein, skip this step) You can do this using a pan on your stove or in the pot of your rice cooker. Melt the butter and quickly sear each side of the meat using high heat.

Seared meat.

Seared meat.

You only want to brown the outside of the meat. Do not cook it all the way through. This will help ensure it cooks through in the toaster oven, give it layers of texture and keep the meat moist. After it has browned on each side, remove the meat to a plate and let cool slightly. Reserve the remaining butter in the pan or rice cooker pot and use it to sauté the onions. When the onions have just begun to brown, remove from heat and fold them into the pesto.

Roll out the pastry puff. The dimensions will depend on the size and shape of the protein you have chosen to use. You will need to cut the dough into shapes that will cover the meat completely. For my example, I rolled out the dough to a rectangle of about 12″ x 15″ (31cm x 38cm) and slice it into 5 12″ x 3″ rectangles.

Spread the pesto along the center of each section of dough covering an area just larger than the meat. Place one piece of meat on the center of each piece of pastry.

Meat and pesto placement on pastry.

Meat and pesto placement on pastry.

Now it’s time to wrap the individual beef wellingtons. Because we’ve gotten creative with our meat choice, we really can’t follow any traditional wrapping techniques. The only rule is to cover the filling entirely and seal the edges. The edges can be sealed simply by dipping your finger in water and then rubbing the water across the area that you want to stick together.

Wrapped beef wellington.

Wrapped beef wellington.

Once you have all of your beef wellingtons wrapped, place them on a toaster oven baking sheet with sealed edges facing down. Now it’s time to slice in steam vents. I cut a little criss-cross pattern on mine, but you can do anything you like on yours. These cuts are important though. Trapped steam will cause the puff pastry to become soggy inside or can lead to the top puffing up too high and over cooking.

Beef wellingtons ready for baking.

Beef wellingtons ready for baking.

Now put them in the toaster oven set to about 300 F for 40 minutes. You will need to use top and bottom heat sources to cook this evenly. Depending on your toaster oven, you might need to switch back and forth between heat sources every five minutes, or set the heat to self-regulate. As always, to cook it as evenly as possible, rotate the baking sheet during the last 10 minutes of cooking. When they are evenly golden brown, remove them from the toaster oven and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Golden brown beef wellington.

Golden brown beef wellington.


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