carma's chicken fried steak

okay, this is one of my very favorite dinners. it's probably horrible for you and it's definitely not for you vegetarians out there, but it is delicious, so i make it as often as my arteries allow. here is my original written-down recipe: it's in my old BYU Franklin planner that i thought i had to have when i was a freshman, spent $90 on (the most expensive thing i had ever bought up to that point)...and the only thing i ever really used it for was writing down recipes. so it still comes in handy now and then, because if i can't find one of my mom's recipes, it's almost guaranteed to be in here. i would call around 4:00 or 5:00 and she always knew to get ready to give me a recipe. the trouble with my mom's recipes, though, is that they're sort of inexact. she's like, "add some of this" and i go "how much is some?" "oh, i don't know, just a little bit." oh. thanks. that's very helpful. so mom's recipes come with a little bit of trial and error. that said, let's get started.

you'll need four cube steaks (or however many you want, you can make a million of them, but that would be too many for my family), some flour, milk, butter, oil, saltine crackers, and...peanut butter? what's that doing in this picture? i have no idea. you don't need peanut butter.
my mom's recipe says to add 1/4 cup of oil and 3 tbsp. of butter to a pan. i don't know why you need both, but apparently you do. so put that in a pan on medium heat. while the butter is melting and the oil is getting hot...
crush half a tube of saltine crackers in a ziploc bag...
line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray well with pam (don't forget this step, you will regret it later)...
now get everything ready. pour milk into a pie pan (or anything, it doesn't matter), put some flour on waxed paper, pour your crushed crackers on another piece of waxed paper, and make sure they're close to your pan.

then take a steak, dip it in milk,
dip it in flour,
(NOTE: just a little bit of flour. if you get it too flour-y, the crackers won't stick. apparently the milk helps the flour stick and the flour helps the crackers stick, but if you get too much flour on it, the crackers just fall off and then you have no breading.)
then smash in the crackers. really smash those suckers in, you want lots of crackers because that equates to lots of breading, and breading is always delish. i just had a thought. would bread crumbs be easier than crackers? perhaps. i might try that sometime.
really smash those crumbs in, coat it really well.
then make sure to wash your hands, you'll need it.
then put the steak in the pan and brown each side. you only want to flip them once or you'll lose your breading (and i can't say it enough, you WANT the breading on these babies). brown them really well. i put all four in at the same time and brown them at once. i also add salt and pepper at this stage.
sometimes the steaks fall apart, especially at the milk stage. see the one at the bottom of this picture? doesn't matter. it'll still be delicious. also, sometimes the steaks are huge, so it's really easier if you cut them in half. that way you have more and it's not as hard to deal with.
flip those puppies over to brown the other side, but be careful. with that much grease it can get splashy.
mmmm...these aren't quite browned enough, but i already flipped them so it's too late. oh well, they were still good.
after they're all browned, transfer them to the foil-lined pan.
and as disgusting as it may sound, don't wash your pan. you need all this yummy oily crumby goodness for gravy later.cover your steaks with foil (i just do a really huge piece and fold it over) and put it in a 300* oven for 45 minutes.
after 45 minutes in the 300* oven, remove the foil lid and turn the oven up to 350* for 15 more minutes. this gets the breading nice and crispy.
while your steaks are cooking, chop up some potatoes for mashed potatoes. here i've left the skins on. i'd like to say that it's because dave really loves mashed potatoes with skins, but sadly, this time, it was simply because i was lazy. i haven't made mashed potatoes like this in, oh 5 years or so. boil them for about 30 minutes, until they're soft. then pour out the water, and put in a mixing bowl (i used to make mashed potatoes right in my pots and pans. what was i thinking?).mix with a hand mixer with milk, butter, and salt & pepper to taste. now for the gravy. on this particular day, i had never had so much gravy in the history of chicken-fried steak making. i must have had lots of oil that day. about 5 minutes before your steaks are done, turn the stove on and get your oil hot again. then you add 2-3 tbsp. flour to the hot oil.
stir together with a whisk. get it nice and bubbly, add a little salt and pepper...
until it looks like this.
now add milk, and stir together until the oil is all mixed in. keep adding milk until you get the right (gravy) consistency.
kind of like this. then turn the stove off and let it sit for a minute, while you get your steaks out of the oven.
here it is: your chicken fried steak masterpiece.
carma's chicken fried steak
4 cube steaks
saltine crackers
and don't forget the peanut butter...