Chicken Fried Steak with White Pepper Gravy
- For the White Pepper Gravy:
- 1 to 1-1/4 lbs. lean round steak, either pre-cut or cut into equal portions
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups AP flour
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1-1/2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (really, don't be afraid, use this much, trust me
- Canola oil
- 1/2 pound bacon, cut into short strips
- 2 well-rounded tablespoons AP flour
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blend the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne and about 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Once blended, divide this between to pie dish or large shallow bowls.
Place the buttermilk in a pie dish or large, shallow bowl, season generously with salt and pepper.
Pour canola oil into a cast iron skillet, right under halfway. It's really important to use a cast iron skillet for this. Heat the skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Do not exceed the medium setting on your stove. This will heat the oil slow and steady and alleviate the big flare up when you place the coated meat into the hot oil.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place the top rack in the middle of the oven.
Pour the 1-1/2 cup of milk and the half cup of heavy cream in a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat and cover, leaving the lid askew on the pot so the liquid warms, not boils.
Dredge no more than 2 pieces at a time through the first flour mixture and shake off any excess.
Then dip the steaks in the buttermilk mixture and gently shake off or allow excess to drip off.
Finally, dredge the meat through the second flour mixture and place into the heated oil.
Add the steak, 2 pieces at a time and cook until golden brown on both sides. More than two steaks at a time will lower the oil temperature and cause the coating to peel off in sheets. Remember to keep the oil temperature steady hot and don't move the meat around for about 3 minutes.
While the steaks are frying, start cutting up the bacon into this strips, about 1-inch long.
Place the cooked steaks momentarily on a paper towel line plate. Quickly season the steaks with salt and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Then, using a spatula or tongs, carefully move the steaks to a rack on a baking sheet. Once all of the steaks are cooked, place the baking sheet in the preheated oven to to keep warm while preparing the gravy.
Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the oil from the skillet, leaving the crunchy pieces from the coating then add the bacon and cook until golden brown.
Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of fat and return the skillet to the burner at medium heat. Whisk the flour into the pan and let cook for approximately 1 minute until the mixture turns just a very slight brown.
Slowly whisk in the warm milk and cream and continue to heat, whisking frequently. The sauce will thicken very quickly. If the gravy seems too thick, feel free to whisk in additional milk to achieve the desired consistency.
Stir in the additional 2 tablespoons of heavy cream thyme and season with salt and lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with ladled gravy and garnish with the reserved bacon