Chef Dewey McMurrey shares his recipe for the Texas favorite, while meat sciences Professor Chance Brooks offers tips for tasty success.
Originally published Oct. 25, 2013
Professor, Meat Science
There are three important criteria when determining the palatability of all meat — tenderness, juiciness and flavor. And Chicken-fried steak can satisfy all three.
- Tenderness - The cutlets can come from any part of the animal, but they're usually the most
external muscles, right beneath the hide. It is typically very learn, but tough too.
So to tenderize the meat, chefs can beat the cutlet with a mallet, or press on it
with the edge of a plate or saucer. In a factory setting, the meat is run through
a cubing machine. The machine flattens the meat and uses tiny blades to score the
- Juiciness - The steak cutlet isn't the juiciest piece of meat, and the cooking process can
sometimes make it drier. But Brooks said pan-frying the meat in oil can compensate
for the natural dryness of the cut because it adds fat and improves the perceived
But a real Texas chicken-fried steak must also have a coating of cream gravy, which would mask any dryness that occurs during cooking.
- Flavor - The batter and breading are key.
Chef, Top Tier Catering
- Chicken-fried steak is descended from the German dish, wiener schnitzel. And schnitzel
is any sort of meat tenderized with a hammer and coated with flour, eggs and bread
- “(Schnitzel) came to America with a lot of European immigrants,” McMurrey said. “And
it kind of got changed to ingredients that we have here. Here, we use beef. There,
they used chicken and pork.”
- McMurrey prefers to use a type of breadcrumb, called panko, that has extra-sharp edges
that can dig into the meat to give it extra tenderness.
- When it comes to spices, McMurrey keeps it simple: salt and pepper in the flour, and lemon juice after it is cooked.