Chicken-Fried Steak and Gravy with Garlic Roasted Mashed Potatoes

For Sunday dinner, I made chicken-fried steak and gravy Pioneer Woman style with garlic roasted mashed potatoes. It always makes you feel good when your guests ask for seconds and more gravy, so I guess I did something right.

First things first, get your water going and your oil heating. Timing is one of the most important things when cooking.

While my water was coming to a boil, I started on the garlic roasted mashed potatoes.

I’ve seen folks roast garlic several different ways, but I like to completely peel the papery skin off of each garlic clove before roasting it in the oven. This way, you don’t have to let it cool or risk burning your fingers trying to squeeze the cloves out of their peel once roasted. I’ve never been good at being patient.

Twist the head of garlic to loosen all the cloves from the stem. Then crush each one under your knife blade to break off the peel.

Put the peeled garlic cloves in a small piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I’ve always said if I was stranded on a desert island, those are the three ingredients I’d like to have.

Close up the aluminum foil and sit it right inside the oven, directly on the rack. Roast at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

I used Idaho potatoes. I like to leave the peel on for a more rustic dish. After washing each one, I quartered some and sliced some in half. It just depends on the size of the potato. You want to cut each one similar in size for even cooking.

Once the water comes to a boil, gently slide your potatoes in and put the lid on. Let them cook for 25 minutes. Once boiled, they should be fork-tender and easy to mash with a potato masher or blender.

On to the country fried steak! Set up a dredging station. I got this nifty trio of trays from Pampered Chef and I use them often.

In the first tray, crack two eggs and add milk. In the second tray, season your flour with paprika, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. The coating has a nice kick. Combine each with a fork.

Dredge the cubed steak in the egg and milk mixture, then the flour mixture, then repeat. This creates a nice crunchy coating on the outside. Make sure you have an extra dish available to hold the prepared meat.

I always thought it was crazy to dip the floured meat back into the egg mixture, but it actually makes perfect sense. This is the second time around. The egg mixture serves as a glue-like adhesive.

If your hands don’t look like this when you’re done, you’re not doing something right. They should be good and messy.

The oil should be good and hot by now. To test it, sprinkle a few drops of flour into the oil and when it sizzles, it’ll be ready. A large frying pan helps too. If you don’t have one, cook the meat in batches. Note: When you lay the meat into the frying pan, be sure to support each end. It will come apart and separate in the middle if not.
After a few minutes on one side, use tongs to flip the steak. Then cook the other side for about 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness of your steak. Look at that golden brown color! It’s a beautiful thing.

By this time, your potatoes will be finished cooking. Drain them and put them in a mixing bowl.

I add whole milk, sour cream and unsalted butter to my potatoes and season them with salt and pepper. I like using unsalted butter so I can control the amount of salt that goes into the dish.

Remember that garlic we roasted first thing? This is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven. Man alive!! It smells divine. Just dump it right in with the rest of your ingredients.

I like to use a potato masher to mix it all up. Just twist and turn it until everything comes together. It gives the potatoes a nice chunky texture.

Yum! An extra pat of butter never hurt. 🙂

After the potatoes come together, the chicken-fried steak should be finished cooking. Remove the meat and drain on paper towels. Keep warm.

Take a look at how much grease you have in the pan after removing the meat. If you need to drain some off, do so. My pan didn’t have much, so I used it all. I sprinkled 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour evenly over the grease and whisked it together. This is what they call a “roux.”

Once the roux turns to a golden brown, that’s when you add milk and let thicken. Don’t forget to season good with salt and pepper. Keep stirring.

“Underseasoned gravy is one of life’s great sacrileges.” -Pioneer Woman

Dinner is served! Spoon as much or as little gravy as you like onto the chicken-fried steak and the potatoes.

For the full recipe, purchase The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond. Check out My Inspirations page to learn more. If you’ve got leftover mashed potatoes, put them to good use with this recipe for Hamburger Pie. 

Now, can someone please help me understand why they call cubed steak chicken???


Pear Crisp Brings Memories of Grandma and Grandpa

Baking a pear crisp was a fantastic way to use up the Harry and David’s Royal Riviera Pears I received as a Christmas gift. Pears aren’t a fruit I work with or have on-hand often, but they are delicious and a nice change from the every day apple. Flavorful and comforting, this recipe for Pear Crisp was taken from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.

Check out the pictures below to see how I completed the recipe.

After the pears are peeled, cored and sliced, toss them with sugar and cinnamon.

Spread the filling in your casserole dish.

Combine your dry ingredients, then cut in cold butter. It’s important that your butter is cold so the mixture becomes nice and crumbly.

You can use a fork or a pastry cutter, but I find that using my hands works just as well. As Ina Garten says, clean hands are a cook’s best tools. Just work quickly, because you don’t want the heat from your hands to melt that butter.

Stir in your almonds, then crumble your topping over the filling.

The filling bubbles over and the topping gets crispy and golden brown. I like to serve it warm with vanilla ice cream, but it also tastes great at room temperature. Enjoy!

The Infamous Office Christmas Party

A Christmas feast, indeed.

I started a new job in November, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my new co-workers. We had our office Christmas party this week and the food was nothing short of fabulous. On the menu?

  • Ham
  • Turkey
  • Dressing and Gravy
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Butter Beans
  • Asparagus (and not the dinky kind)
  • Tomato Casserole
  • Mixed Green Salad
  • Cheesecake or Red Velvet Cake with berries
Macaroni and Cheese is the dish I don’t fix at home often, but really look forward to eating during the holidays. It was cooked perfectly, crunchy on top and cheesy throughout. The tomato casserole was very interesting and a dish I’d never heard of, much less tried. It had bacon and cheese in it and I’m going to attempt to recreate it (that’s a post for a later date). Have you ever seen asparagus thinner than a pencil? There’s nothing I despise more than going to the grocery store to buy a vegetable like asparagus and it’s not plump. This asparagus was full and round and had a nice bite to it.

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My white elephant gift. I’m all about anything festive!

It was a delicious meal indeed. The only thing I would’ve added is a nice blackberry reduction sauce to the cheesecake. A shout out to Eagle Dining Services for catering a wonderful holiday luncheon!

After we ate, our team had a white elephant gift exchange which was rather entertaining with 40 folks. Since I drew #17, I got to choose whether I wanted to take someone else’s gift or pick a gift from under the tree. I decided to take someone’s Cabernet Sauvignon and should have known I wouldn’t get to keep it. The next gift I opened was a set of kitchen knives and since I already have a fine set at home, I talked another co-worker into a trade at the end of the game. I came out pretty good with a Santa Claus inspired wine glass. Hey, at least it’s something I can use! Among the most popular gifts? Wine, lottery tickets and a Georgia Southern University Gnome. We had lots of laughs and a great time was had by all.

That Chili Don’t Need Nothin’ But Eatin’

ChiliThere’s nothing quite like golden brown corn bread and chili on a cold night. I like to make mine Neely style, beginning with a little pig in the pan and sautéing some onion and bell pepper.  I let the vegetables get soft, then add my seasonings–chili powder, garlic powder, italian seasoning and of course, salt and pepper. Then comes the ground beef and after it’s brown, I add a can of italian diced tomatoes. Then I drain a can of light red kidney beans and a can of dark red kidney beans and throw them in. I follow that up with a little beer, whatever you have around the house…gives it great flava flav. And just like my daddy would say, “That chili don’t need nothing but eatin’!” Continue reading “That Chili Don’t Need Nothin’ But Eatin’”

What I like to call “The Help Spread”

Shortly after watching the popular movie The Help, I was inspired to go home and create a southern spread. On the menu: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, farm raised green beans, made from scratch biscuits, fried okra and apple pie.Image