Southern Recipe: Cholula Chicken-Fried Steak with Gravy
Any trip to Texas will likely include an experience with chicken-fried steak and Cholula hot sauce. Chicken-fried steak (lovingly called CFS) is a Southern classic, while Cholula hot sauce (introduced to the states here in Austin, TX) is a popular condiment that adds a Texas kick. See what happens when these icons get hitched in this new take on a Lone Star tradition.
What Is Chicken-Fried Steak?
Chicken-fried steak is not chicken. It’s just fried like one — with a flour-based batter that, when done right, yields a delicate flaky, yet fluffy, crust. I prefer a steak that is cooked medium, and that’s no different when it comes to CFS. A thicker sirloin tip roast is the type of cut we need to prevent a well-done steak from arriving at the table.
The next key component is the crust. This recipe develops a sturdy, adhesive coating that sticks to the steak with three total coats in flour. Once you have the right steak, and the right batter, the rest is all gravy.
Cholula Chicken-Fried Steak with Gravy
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds sirloin tip roast
1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons Cholula hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 cups milk, plus more as needed
Cut the roast into 4 to 6 steaks, then place the steaks into 2 to 3 gallon-sized resealable plastic bags. Evenly divide 1/4 cup of the flour among the bags, press out as much air as possible, and seal. Shake the bags to coat the steaks with the flour. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small saucepan, pound the steaks into thin cutlets. This serves to both tenderize the meat and work an even flour coating into the steaks.
Place 1 cup of the flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Place the eggs and hot sauce in a second wide, shallow bowl and whisk until beaten and well-combined.
Fit a wire rack over a baking sheet. Remove the steaks from the bags and season generously all over with salt and pepper. Working with 1 steak at a time, dredge in the egg mixture, then toss and coat in the flour mixture. Repeat dredging and flouring again, then place on the wire rack.
Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of a large, deep skillet about 1/8-inch deep and heat over medium to medium-high heat until 350°F (the oil should be shimmering and bubble immediately when you drop in a pinch of flour).
Add 2 of the steaks and fry to a medium doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to a clean wire rack or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Repeat frying the remaining steaks, adding more oil to the pan as needed.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the oil cool slightly. Carefully pour off all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour to the pan and whisk as you return the pan to high heat.
When the flour-oil mixture begins to bubble, slowly pour in the milk while whisking constantly. Whisk until the gravy has thickened to your desired consistency, adding more milk to thin it out if needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.
Sirloin tip roast: A sirloin tip roast is a thicker chunk of steak than the typical cubed steak you may normally use for chicken-fried steak. I find this thicker cut to cook more like a steak, to medium doneness, which is my preference.
Storage: Leftover steak and gravy can be refrigerated in separate containers for up to 4 days.