CRACKER BARREL CHICKEN FRIED STEAK

The restaurant and gift store chain that was founded in 1969 to attract highway travelers in the South now has stores in forty-two states, but the closest one to my home in Las Vegas is located over two hours away in St. George, Utah. With a cooler packed up in the back of my car, I drove out of Nevada, through a corner of Arizona, and into Utah to taste the epitome of southern food—the best chicken fried steak on the planet, smothered in milky white Sawmill Gravy. I cleared my plate, ordered another one to go with gravy on the side, and headed back with grub in tow to work up this original clone of one of Cracker Barrel’s most popular guilty pleasures.

SAWMILL GRAVY
1 ounce breakfast sausage
1½ tablespoons bacon fat (from cooking 3 slices of bacon)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
4 5-ounce cube steaks
Vegetable oil


Cooking method

1-Cook the sausage in the bacon fat in a medium saucepan over medium heat until done or you can see no more pink. Crumble the sausage into small bits as it cooks. A potato masher works great for this.

2-Stir in the flour and cook until the flour becomes tan in color, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover.

3-Make the steaks by combining the flour, salt, paprika, pepper, sage, garlic powder, and onion powder in a shallow bowl or pie pan. Combine the eggs and the milk in another shallow bowl.

4-Heat up about a ½ inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. The oil is hot enough when a pinch of flour dropped into it bubbles rapidly.

5-Bread the steaks one at a time by first coating one with the flour mixture. Dredge the steak in the wet mixture, then drop it back into the flour, coating thoroughly. Repeat the process one more time, dipping the steak into the egg/milk mixture, then back into the flour. Set the steak aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining steaks.

6-When the oil is hot, pan-fry the steaks for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on a rack or paper towel–lined plate after frying, then serve with sawmill gravy spooned over the top.

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