As we celebrate Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day all across the great state raise their tongs as they pay homage to this fine example of Texan ingenuity and deliciousness.
We asked Jonathon Erdeljac, owner of both Jonathon’s in Oak Cliff, his secret of how he ended up making a fine example of the CFS in his restaurants. Jonathon gave us this:
“First day I ever worked in a kitchen, true story… walk in at 9am, I was somewhere between 14 and 15. First thing I have to do is sweep and mop the floors, finish that up and Claire (the owner) tells me to go to the store room and grab the black bin and 4 boxes of saltine crackers.
Grab all that, head into the small closet, I mean kitchen, where I find cube steaks and buttermilk waiting for me. So, dry wet dry- Seasoned flour, buttermilk, and the black bin of crushed saltines. I flour the steak, buttermilk, and beat that into the crackers until it doubles in size. Deep fry, and smother in pepper gravy, that’s how I learned it.
Now I have worked for many other people, made chicken fried steak many, many ways, but when I opened my restaurant it was the only way I ever considered selling it. The first thing I ever prepped in a professional kitchen was Chicken Fried Steak, and I’m still doin’ it almost 30 years later the same way”.
We have a great recipe for elk below, but you could use any meat from bottom round to tenderloin.
• 2 to 2 ½ lbs elk roast, trimmed (any venison will work)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 Tbsp Corn starch
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 4 whole eggs, beaten
• ½ cup vegetable or fryer oil
• 2 Tbsp butter
• 2 cups chicken broth
• ⅔ cup milk
• 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped or ½ tsp dried
1. Slice roast into ½-inch pieces, against the grain, and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Put the elk pieces between two layers of plastic wrap, and pound out with a mallet or other heavy object to flatten into ¼-inch thick pieces. Use a tenderizing knife to further break up the fibers, if desired.
3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, corn starch, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper.
4. Put beaten egg and seasoned flour into separate shallow dishes. Dredge the meat in the flour, then the egg, then the flour again. Set dredged meat aside for at least 15 minutes to set.
5. Heat about a ¼ cup of oil over medium-high heat in a 14-inch cast iron Camp Chef skillet. Fry the elk on both sides, until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side and add oil to the pan as needed between batches. Place steaks on a wire rack set on a baking sheet, and keep warm in an oven set to 250°.
Steps for Making Gravy
1. Take the frying pan and remaining oil you browned the steaks in and heat to medium. There should still be a visible layer of oil in the pan. Add 2 Tbsp butter and as it melts, whisk in 3 Tbsp flour and make a roux and cook for 2 minutes.
2. Deglaze the pan with 2 cups of chicken broth, whisking continually to produce a smooth base for the gravy.
3. When the gravy starts to boil, add milk and fresh thyme and bring to a simmer. The gravy should be thick and ready to serve over the elk.