I admit it, I am a Cookbook Addict!  Twice….yes twice – I made a trip to Barnes & Noble, to purchase…  The Pioneer Woman Cooks – You know, her new wonderful lip smaking Cookbook. Both times I was turned away, along with several other anxious, irritated woman who had stopped by (on the proper date) for the same darn reason. Oh yeah, they had the books, but neglected to remove them from the boxes that were boastfully storing them.  I believe it was a strategic plot!  Why?  Well, they aren’t dumb, they know that weak, hopeless cookbook addicts like myself….won’t just leave their store empty handed.  They know that we will scour the countless aisles of cookbooks that stare us down.  Each book seems to cry….”look at me, touch me, smell me, buy me!”

I fought the urge, mumbled under my breath and headed for the door. The cries just got louder.  “Come back….I’m just as good as the Pioneer Cookbook.”  I could feel my feet literally being pulled in the opposite direction.  My brain was having a fight with my feet!  Suddenly, I could here the click click of my high heeled boots (why don’t they make nice boots that don’t talk back…it’s so annoying to me) making their noisy way back to those coveted dang cookbooks.  I looked around and yes…..I wasn’t alone.  Those woman who were also irritated beyond words…..were standing right beside me! 
I betcha you can guess what happened next. Yes I am pathetically weak!  If you are stronger and have resisted the urge to buy this fab cookbook, you need not fear.  Many of her recipes can be found at her website. There are also many recipes not found in that pile…that I will test and share with you.  I will use my own pictures – of course.
Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy is a dish I make often in this house.  Cube steak is a once a week staple. Most of the time, I simply give it a good dusting of flour, and fry it golden brown in a bit of olive oil.  Taking it a step further to create Chicken Fried Steak is a piece of cake. I just decided however, to follow her recipe to the T, even though I haven’t heard complaining about my own.  Her version is also most delicious but with a spicy kick.  Now…..I enjoy a good kick every now and then.  My husband however, doesn’t seem to embrace being kicked, quite like I do.  I will post the recipe as written, but you can “un-spice” it if you’d like.  For the picture, I didn’t allow myself to pour too much gravy over the steak, because I wanted you to be able to actually see it.  Trust me, you will use much more. Enjoy….cuz it’s Pioneer good!
Lets get started…
Get Prepared:
  Begin with an assembly line of dishes for the meat.
1.  Milk/egg mixture
With a fork, beat 2 large eggs together with 1 cup milk.
Pour this mixture on a heavy duty paper plate.
 2.  Flour Mixture
Blend flour and seasonings together and place on a plate.
 3.  A Clean plate to rest the meat
I’m all ready to roll!
4.  I also have peeled my potatoes.
Cube them, and placed them in a big pot.
Cover with water, and place over medium heat.
This way, your potatoes will be ready to mash when you are ready for them!
This is my assembly line!
I like using a zip loc bag and a rolling pin, to pound my cube steak
Don’t pound it to death, or it will fall apart!
You just want to flatten it slightly and tenderize it a bit more.
Now dip that steak into the egg/milk mixture.
Both sides…
Pick it up, and lay it over the flour mixture.
Flip the meat over, and flour the other side.
 Now back into the egg/milk mixture. (Both sides)
 Now again in the flour mixture.  (Both sides)
your done…..
  Rest your prepared cube steak on a clean plate.
Repeat this entire process for each piece of steak.
Now your hands are a big fat mess!
Wash up and get ready to fry.
FYI:  My husband doesn’t like the thick crust that double dipping creates.
I love it!
I single dip his steak….egg, then flour…..done.
I double dip my steak….egg, flour, egg, flour.
Experiment to see what your prefer.
*I also use a similar process with hamburger patties.
 (Breaded Hamburger)….my children love it,
and prepare it this way for there families. 
I add one additional plate to my assembly line though.
I crush one pkg. of saltine crackers, and place on a plate.
Dip your hamburger pattie in flour first, then egg/milk mixture, then into the crushed crackers.
Fry hamburger patties until golden brown on each side. 
Try it…You’ll love it.
oh yeah,
Back to our feature Chicken Fried Steak Presentation……
Heat the oil in a large skillet or electric frying pan .
I use medium high heat to begin.
Test the oil:  Drop a few spinkles of flour into the hot oil,
If it sizzles and pops it’s ready.
Place your meat into the hot oil and cook until golden brown.
This will take 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the meat over and brown the other side.
2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the meat from the oil, and place on paper towel lined plates.
Place the meat in a warmed oven, while you make the gravy.
I put my oven on the lowest temperature. (170)
After all….you don’t want the paper towels to ignite.
Yikes….oh I’ve done that before.!!

Gravy is easy……Pioneer woman stresses it in her cookbook.
I agree….don’t stress out!
After frying all the meat, pour off the grease into a heat proof bowl.
Leave all those tasty little golden bit and pieces right there.
This is what makes your gravy…..gravy!
Now over medium low heat, add 1/4 cup of grease,
back into the pan.  Allow the grease to heat up.
Now sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease.
It will bubble up…..that’s a good thing.
With a whisk, mix the flour with the grease.
Keep stirring… don’t want lumps!
You want to create a golden brown “roux.”
(See picture below….it’s golden in color)
If the paste seems oily….add a bit more flour.
Keep Whisking, until you have reached that rich golden brown color.
Make sure all your lumps are whisked out, until it’s a smooth consistency.
Now….Whisking constantly,
Pour in your 2 cups of milk.
Whisk…..Whisk……don’t stop.
Continue whisking as the gravy comes to a slow boil.
It will thicken gradually.  If it seems too thick…add a bit more milk.
Eventually, you will have a delicious Milk gravy,
to pour over your chicken fried steak and Mashed potatoes.
(Taste your gravy….does it need more salt & pepper?)
If so……add it.  I also add a touch of sugar.
Cover the gravy with a lid, and turn heat down to the lowest setting.
You don’t want to continue boiling it…..just keep it warm,
while you mash your potatoes.
My potatoes are fork tender.
Drain them well, and place your pot of spuds on low heat.
You can mash the spuds in the same pan, or place in a heat proof bowl.
This is what I use, because I don’t like to beat up my pots…..
any worse than they already are!
I should have used my expensive enameled cast iron beauties. (duh Jonna)
Mine are Martha Stewart brand, and I’m in love with them.
I use Butter, Cream, Salt and Pepper.
(Pioneer woman also adds Cream Cheese to her mashed potatoes)
My Mom adds sour cream to her mashed potatoes.
We are simple ordinary folk…..Cream makes them very creamy good!
1.  Mash your fork tender potatoes until all lumps are gone.
2.  Add the cubed butter…..add as much as you like.
(I cooked 3 large potatoes and used 1/2 cube of real butter)
3.  Mash the butter into those potatoes until creamy again.
4.  Slowly add cream…a tablespoon at a time.
5.  Continue mashing and blending
 adding cream until they are the perfect consistency for you.
Plop a little butter over the top of those creamy spuds!
Now….place your Chicken Fried Steak…
a big heaping of mashed potatoes …
on a nice big plate.
Pour the gravy over the top of both the steak and the potatoes.
For picture purposes, I didn’t pour too much over the top,
because I wanted you to be able to see the meat.
I also made cut bean beans with bacon…oh yum.
Dive in……easy, simple and yummy!
Now people… simply have to exercise.
I don’t endorse eating this meal every night of the week.
I’ve been bombarded with emails telling me to eat healthy.
If you don’t like to exercise……then you can only nibble on lettuce.
Running and pilates works well for me. 
That way….
I can “Get Off My Butt and Bake” once in a while!
Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
3 pounds cube steak
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (for dipping purposes),
plus 2 cups for the gravy
3 cups all purpose flour,
 plus about 1/3 cup flour for the gravy
2 teaspoons seasoned salt, such as lawry’s
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
3 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil for frying.
Begin with assembly line of dishes for the meat, milk-egg mixture, and flour mixture…with a clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.  Mix the 2 eggs with 1 cup of milk.  Beat together with a fork, and pour on plate.  Blend the flour with the seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Place flour mixture on another plate.  If needed, pound each cube steak slightly to flatten and tenderize a bit more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip each side of steaks into milk/egg mixture.  Now place wet steak on top of flour mixture.  Coat both sides.  Place back into milk/egg mixture…wetting both sides again.  Now place the meat on top of flour mixture again, and coat both sides.  Place prepared meat on a clean platter and prepare for frying.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Test the oil:  Drop in a few sprinkles of flour over the oil.  If it sizzles it’s ready.  Fry as many pieces of meat as you can comfortably fit into your pan.  Cook approximately 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Place cooked meat on a paper towel lined plate, and keep warm in a low heated oven.  (I use 170 degrees oven)
Continue frying until all the meat is done.
After frying, pour off the grease into a heat proof bowl.  Do not clean the pan!  Leave all the golden bits and pieces that are stuck to the bottom of your fry pan.  Return 1/4 cup of the grease back into the pan, and allow grease to heat up over medium low heat. Stir together to help remove all the golden bits that are stuck.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease.  Using a whisk, mix the flour with grease, creating a golden brown paste called a “Roux.”  You want this roux to attain a deep, rich color.  If the paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour.  Whisk again and check the consistency.  After a couple of minutes, the paste will start to turn golden brown.  That’s when it’s ready for the milk.  Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups of milk.  Whisk to combine, until the gravy comes to a slow boil.  I turn my heat down to low, and continue whisking until it’s the thickness I desire.  If it seems to thick for you, simply add a little more milk, being careful not to make it too thin.  It will take about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  I also add a bit of sugar.  Taste it….is it salty enough?…add to your liking. 
Place the warmed meat on a plate with a heaping pile of mashed potatoes.  For mashed potatoes…Follow my above pictures. Drizzle with gravy.  Yum…enjoy!
To check out Pioneer Woman’s Fabulous website click here.

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