Chicken Fried Steak and Chili

This past weekend I decided to make Gant’s chicken fried steak and Jacob’s chili. Both of these are top Texas meals, and I’ve never made either one of them. I’m just guessing here, but I’m assuming Jacob has had chili his whole life and has made it hundreds of times. He said he had never measured anything, so that means he’s used to eye balling all the portions (almost as much as he eyeballs pictures on this site).

Gant is an experienced cook who makes meals that a man would want; smoked meats, potatoes and the like. Gant has been doing it so long it’s just natural, and he has a lot of wisdom stored up on the matter. I say all this because either one of these guys can make a video showing how to make their chili or chicken fried steak, but there are still some problems you can run into when you’re a noob. I cooked both of these meals and they were incredible. I learned some things along the way that I would have rather not learned the hard way. I am a noob cook/chef/whatever. That means that while you older guys may say, “Well, yeah, duh” to my observations, this is all new to me. And if you younger guys say the same thing, then I’m sorry I don’t waste my time watching Rachel Ray, and I don’t care how much you want to diddle her. Pay attention. I’ll try and make it entertaining along the way.

Chili
Jacob making his chili, part 1 and part 2. Here is the post with the ingredients.

I didn’t really mess anything up when I made Jacob’s chili. My only regret is that something prevented me from starting the crock pot mid-morning and it wasn’t ready in the middle of all the college football games on Saturday. I went ahead and included all of the ingredients that he listed. Before I made the chili, I remembered when Gant made it earlier this year, and he said it was a little spicy. Well, if Gant thinks it is spicy, then it’s gonna be real fucking spicy for me. Gant told me that the heart of chili is a good beer, chili powder, and cumen — everything else is just icing on the cake.

Pre-cooked chili

Jacob listed a few different types of chili powder, but I just used one type of chili powder. I used about 3 tablespoons of it, then a little over a tablespoon of cumen. Then I halved all the other peppers, because I didn’t want to get effed up (and neither did the lady friend). In the video Jacob uses Shiner Bock, which has become my stock everyday beer since I lived in Texas (I like others, as well, but when I’m eating smoked or spicy meats, I like Shiner). And I didn’t realize that it was used as the primary liquid in the chili. You see, my parents are both from Pennsylvania so stuff like smoked meats, chicken fried steak, and chili weren’t staples in my childhood. My mom is a great cook, but she doesn’t have the southern or Texas influence. Anyway, I used two Shiner Bocks for my broth (along with the ingredients Jacob listed) for about…oh, probably 3 pounds of meat, maybe more. It was sirloin tips and ground beef. I wouldn’t suggest using any kind of light beer (certainly not light commercial shit) because it won’t have any significant flavor. Gant told me he has used Negra Modelo for a nice mexican chili.

I chopped about a half cup of cilantro up, and this was the high end of what Jacob recommended. This turned out being pretty strong. When the chili was cooking for about an hour and a half, I was worried I had too much cilantro. at this point I only had 2 tablespoons of chili powder and 1 of cumen, so I added about another of each. That seemed to bring down the strength of the cilantro, and I’m glad I did it.

Before I forget; fuck garlic. Don’t waste time with this. I had never dealt with raw unpeeled garlic before, and it’s not worth it. You have to peel the crusty stuff off the top, then you have to peel the individual cloves like it’s a pistachio that hasn’t been cracked. It was a giant pain in the ass, and I was in the middle of trying to watch football and drink beer, so I was pissed. Most stores have freshly peeled/chopped garlic in the vegetable section. Fucking Winn Dixie didn’t.

I used flour to thicken my chili up after it had been cooking five or six hours. It worked pretty well. Ere on the side of less flour than not. We’ll come back to this lesson later. All in all, this chili was badass. Again, I’ve never made these Texas foods, and I will always default to Gant’s advice on food, because he A) likes eating good food and B) is good at making good food. Texas seems to this on lock down.

Chicken Fried Steak
I’ve eaten Gant’s chicken fried steak before, so I already knew it was delicious. The problem would be in replicating that feat. Luckily Gant has some pretty comprehensive videos on how to make it.
Here is the post with ingredients, and here is video 1, video 2, and video 3.

The good thing about making CFS is that you don’t need a whole lot of stuff. The odd item is the tenderized cube steaks. My mom tells me that some grocery stores don’t sell them. Well, Winn Dixie did, but my steaks weren’t nice little squares like Gant’s in the video. They looked like the butcher and his buddies were throwing them against the wall from across the room, and then let them slide down into the package. No big deal, though, because they don’t fall apart.

Depending on where you live, this may sound shocking, but I’ve never cooked anything in grease before. I poured some oil in the pan, turned it up to a little over medium, and thought, “Let’s see how this goes.” In the video, Gant said, “And if you’re gonna test your grease with water, for God’s sakes don’t put your face over the pan.” I didn’t, of course, because I listen to what Gant tells me, but I tossed a drop or two of water, and that shit popped 12 inches off the pan.
Lesson here: If you’re new to grease cooking, keep the heat low. You can get fancy later.

I breaded my steaks (rub them all in flour, then add some corn meal to your leftover flour, dip them in an egg/milk mixture, then cover them in the corn meal mixture), and I decided I was NOT gonna put them in with my fingers like Dr. Badass Gant Grimes. I decided to use a fork. As I was putting the first steak in, the second half of it slipped off my fork, slapped the grease, and shot it in the air, burning the underside of my forearm in the process.
Lesson here: Be very fucking careful when putting the steaks in grease. That shit hurts. I started using metal tongs and gripped them like Michael Jackson dangling his baby over the balcony.
Side lesson: Apparently chapstick is good at healing grease burns.

This smarted.

(I realize that doesn’t look like much, but A) I needed some visual aids for this post, and B) when it hit me it hurt like a mofo. Go splash hot grease on you and see how it feels. Asshole.)

When I had the first two steaks in the pan, they didn’t seem to be getting that “crispy golden” look like Gant’s. That’s when I called him and learned that olive oil is the worst oil you can use for CFS. I didn’t even think about it. It was sitting next to the stove and I was drinking beer while watching Monday Night Football after training. Luckily I was able to drain the pan and use vegetable oil. The steaks turned out much better after this. And I was much more careful when I put them in the pan.

After cooking the steaks, it’s time to make gravy. I’ve made gravy before, but I made with sausages for breakfast. Basically you add flour to the grease, let it thicken up, and then add milk to that mixture. I’m pretty sure Gant poured some grease off. I was not entirely sober and just left it all in the pan. Then I added flour. Too much flour. It’s not like I turned my grease into Elmer’s glue, but when you add milk and the heat starts cooking your mixture, it thickens up. Then, as Gant told me, it will always thicken up when you take it off the pan. So in other words, you don’t need that much flour. But my befuddled brain thought I needed a good bit because I had so much grease. This doesn’t ruin the gravy, it just means you have to thin it out more and delays the whole eating process. Gant and my mom say that water is best to thin out gravy. I just added more whole milk.
Lesson here: Use less flour than you think you need to. You can always add more later. Be patient with the thickening process, because it may take a few minutes on some heat. Make sure to get enough salt and pepper in there, but again, go easy at first.

Other than that, the CFS meal kicked ass. I forgot to make fried biscuits, but I did on Tuesday night. You just take the biscuit dough and place it in some hot vegetable oil in a small pot. Turn the biscuit over and you’ve got an awesome side to your chicken fried steak. If you’re trying to grow or recover from hard training, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and fried biscuits are filled with plenty of calories to get you bigger and stronger. I highly recommend it.

Gant's finished CFS



Hopefully this post does a few things. I hope it inspires you to try out either one of these recipes as the weather cools off (chili is perfect football/beer food). They are amazing. Texans really have their shit together when it comes to making awesome food. CFS doesn’t cost a lot of money because the majority of the ingredients should be sitting around your kitchen anyway. If the chili is expensive, have a few friends throw down to get the ingredients. I also hope that if you’re new to cooking awesome stuff like this, you’ll learn from my mistakes (mainly getting owned by the hot grease). So try it out and report back to us.

Lastly, if you have another awesome meal you think we will enjoy, e-mail it on in. It will be even better if you create a cooking video like Gant and Jacob have done (by the way, Jacob’s second video is worth viewing again — watch it until the end to see his bloopers). And you people from the north: you’re gonna have to do a lot to impress Gant.

38 thoughts on “Chicken Fried Steak and Chili

  1. If there’s one thing this site hasn’t talked about enough, it’s the consumption of beef jerky.

    And by beef jerky, I mean the homemade style, not some store bought garbage. It makes for a fantastic snack.

    This might need to be my next project. I’ve never made it.

    –Justin

  2. Peeling garlic: take the clove of garlic (that’s the small half moon shaped bit, not the bulb) and crush it (normally using the flat or handle of a knife). The skin will easily come away once the clove is crushed.

    That would have made it a little easier, but it was still a giant pain in the ass and totally not worth it.

    –Justin

  3. Not American, but lived there. It’s called chicken-fried, cause its made just like fried chicken. And it doensnt differ that much from a schnitzel, except I think a traditional schnitzel is made from veal.

  4. I made chicken fried steak after Gant first posted about it. It was awesome. I’m also English and had to explain to my housemates why I was “eating Texan” and why it was called “chicken-fried”

    I make chilli regularly, usually once a week, but I only used beer for the first time this week! What a coincidence. Again, it was amazing! Texans clearly know how to eat like men.

    Justin – Learn how to crack garlic cloves. The skin should come away easily. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZqP0D130HA

    Like I said before, it’s just not worth it. Unless there are skinny vampires running around.

    –Justin

  5. If you’re really lazy and don’t want to whack the garlic to peel it (and I hate doing that because garlic juice is sticky) put the cloves of garlic in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel for 15-30sec. The peels should slide right off.

  6. DAMN that looks good! Out-fucking-standing, Justin. Makes me want a chicken-fried steak right now.

    That’s Gant’s picture, just to clarify. Mine was good, but I didn’t worry about a presentation.

    –Justin

  7. Re: Garlic

    Break the cloves off the head. Take the flat side of your knife and squish the cloves a little bit, until they make a cracking noice. Chop off the bottom part of the clove, the flat, hard bit, with your knife and peel from this end. If you’ve squished them with your knife, you will have loosened the skin and it should come off real easy unless your garlic is under-ripe.

    Get a garlic press. Fuck chopping that shit, it does take some time.

    It’s funny how all of you are so concerned over the garlic issue. It’s a waste of time.

    –Justin

  8. “Texans clearly know how to eat like men.” – JC

    Those are some of the kindest words you could say to a true Texan, thanks man. (Also my vote for comment of the week.)

    In other news, you can get a free “Got Yoke?” T-shirt with every order at elitefts.com, also if your order is over 19.95 you get free gound shipping. It only lasts untill 11am tomorrow though so… Brent you might want to get on this ASAP

  9. Chili, CFS, beer, and football. Weekends don’t get much better.

    Yankees better come correct on a food post. Hint: if you put ketchup on your hamburger, don’t bother commenting until tomorrow.

    Actually…don’t comment ever.

  10. Nice tips on the garlic. I’ll have to try some. I told Justin to look for fresh peeled garlic because doing it yourself is such a beating. Once peeled, I put half of it through a press to flavor the chili and chop the other half so I have nice chunks.

  11. One more thing,

    In college my room mates and I would make a pot of chili on a monday and eat on it all week, adding shit as we went it was awesome. I wouldnt do it now bc i actually have to pay for electricity but those of you who are still in school could try it out.. when it gets low just brown some more meat and throw it in along with some more beer, seasoning, and whatever else you want, its a blast… ok im done

    Would a crock pot use all that much electricity though? And even if it was significant, wouldn’t it be worth it if you compared it with eating out at a restaurant?

    –Justin

  12. I’ve made brisket twice and pork shoulder once in the past month with help from Gant. The pork shoulder didnt’ come out as well but that was probably more the effect of me fucking it up. Brisket came out awesome this past weekend though.

    Gonna use the brisket leftovers tonight to make shepherd’s pie (hopefully this isn’t sacrilegious to TX or anything). Should come out pretty damn good.

    Speaking of brisket, how do you guys usually eat it? As is, with sauce, sandwiches, etc?

  13. Also, Gant told me to take pictures, but I always end up too drunk to remember. Beer + BBQ = win. And from a “yankee” viewpoint, Shiner Bock is one of my favorite beers, up there with Yuengling.

    Haven’t had Yuengling in a while. I didn’t dislike it.

    –Justin

  14. Agreed, peeling garlic sucks, just buy the jar of minced and be done with it, add it in by the spoonful.

    I’ve been holding off on making Jacob’s chili only because I needed to some research on this Shiner Bock stuff. It’s unobtainable up here in Maine, so I need to find a decent substitute. I need to go stand in the beer aisle this weekend and see who else makes an amber bock, I think I’ve seen Negro Modelo around here before though, maybe I’ll search for that and make this next week. Really excited to try Texas style chili and beat up my friends that ask why there are no beans in it!

    I’ll have to dig up my Carolina style pulled pork recipe and see if it gets approved, that’s a croc-pot staple of mine.

    And I’d totally diddle Rachel Ray

  15. smithb, you must be a southern Yank to be able to find Yuengling AND Shiner Bock, that stuff doesn’t make it’s way up to the woods of Maine, we’ve got some decent microbrews though.

    Forgot to mention, I searched through that swEEts site that Justin a little bit ago and cranked out some peanut butter and jelly cupcakes a weekend ago, those things are slammin, highly recommended!

    Nice. Make sure you go post on the swEEts site and give her some love.

    –Justin

  16. smithb, shepherd’s pie is excellent. I lived in Rhode Island for a few months and had it every other day at an Irish pub.

    I had some Yuengling with Jamie Skibicki when I was in PA.

    MattTruss, post it up. I’m not usually partial to vinegar-based sauce, but I spray my pork with an olive oil/apple cider vinegar mix after a couple hours of smoking.

    Agree on Rachel Ray.

  17. MattTruss, I grew up in Southern NJ (read: yuengling country) but live in Boston now. I think one of my buddies who lived in TX for a while brought me a case of Shiner Bock, its good stuff if you ever get the chance to try it.

    You didn’t go to Wentworth by chance, did you? I think we might have gone to school together. Small world, if so.

  18. Ha! Nice job outing Jacob, Justin. Too bad he won’t read this probably, since he’s busy being gay at the beach. Rockin a mankini I’m sure.
    I should definitely should make some chili this saturday. It will go nicely with beer and football.

  19. yea dude, WIT class of 08, too funny. What’s you name?, or if you don’t wanna throw it up on here, shoot me an e-mail: trussellm through gmail. I was just getting into lifting when I was at WIT, mostly my 4th and 5th year, but have really taken things more seriously the last 4-5 months or so after reading Starting Strength and finding this site, good stuff man.

    Rocked some shepards pie last night, ground beef style though, never tried with brisket, but I think that may be in my future.

  20. Haha, I thought it was you. I’ll send you an email.

    I’m only using brisket for the shepherd’s pie b/c I smoked 4-5lbs of it on Sunday so I have a lot left over, and figured it would work good for shepherds pie.

    As for amber bock, michelob makes a pretty good one, although it can be hard to find. Its the “house beer” at the Joshua Tree if you’ve ever been there, good for drinking and I imagine would work well for chili too.

  21. I just made that chili on Saturday. It’s freakin’ amazing. I added more meat than what was called for and a few different spices. I hit PR’s on Monday…Hmmm coincidence? I think not. Chicken Fried Steak is next on the menu.
    Thanks for re-posting.

    Bryan

  22. WANNABBURLY
    Hell yes man! I love that idea, and being from Houston I know exactly what you’re talking about

    Justin
    Great idea. When i was in school i didnt have a crockpot so we just left the stove on the whole time… not the brightest idea but the house never burnt down so thats a plus!

  23. @smithb9 Says: “Speaking of brisket, how do you guys usually eat it?”

    By the pound! This weekend, that happened to be at Black’s BBQ in Lockhart and City Market in Luling earlier today. Nom.

    Glad you guys enjoy the chili post, mankinis, and extra-medium shirts. I need to get off my ass and make a carne guisada video like I said I’d do forever ago. Gonna have to simplify it for the non-cookers, but that should be easy enough.

  24. I’ll echo the shepherds pie love, that’s a fixture in this house, particularly in winter. Or cottage pie, same deal but with beef.

    On the subject of garlic, we generally keep a packet of garlic butter in the fridge, which is both a tasty and lazy option.

  25. Haven’t made chili in a while. I make a pretty inauthentic version; the secret ingredient is unsweetened cocoa solids. I don’t thicken it, but if I did, I’d use a roux; wouldn’t want the chili to taste like raw flour.

    I get jarred garlic from the local Indian grocery. Chili powder, too. It’s much better than the dark red sawdusty stuff I find in grocery stores. I like my chili powder to contain nothing but chilis; I add the other spices separately.

    PS. Whole cumin seeds work much better than powder, particularly if you toast them a bit first. And ‘cumen’ is as much a word as ‘irregardless’.

    The chili didn’t taste like raw flour. How much flour did you think I put in?

    –Justin

  26. domjo54,
    I feel your shame. Read the label on canned chili and be amazed it has less meat than you think. Lots of vegetable protein and oatmeal.

    Also, a good thickening agent is masa de harina.

  27. I make my chili similair to Jacob’s but with Modelo and more lime juice. Sometimes I use Carona if its on sale but its usually a huge ripoff.

    In addition to the rottel I add one of those small peel top cans of salsa. Its the kind that is real liquidy and really hot. I dont know the name but you can find it next to all the other canned mexican foods.

    My girlfriend shows up at my front door with tupperware when I make this chili.

  28. ilcrawford and domjo,
    Yes, canned chili is horrible crap that shouldnt be eaten unless you are a survivor of a natural disaster and you have no choice but to live off canned food.

  29. ilcrawford and bloodandoi,

    While I actually didn’t mind the canned chili I had yesterday (it actually had a good amount of meaty protein in it), I know enough to know that it tastes like complete shit in comparison to a good chili like Jacob’s. I plan to make some ACTUAL chili using that recipe this or next weekend, assuming my mom doesn’t kill me–she hates all these 70s Big-style recipes I’m always making. She also continually tells me how my 17-year-old metabolism is such a “gift”…oh, the frustration.

  30. I made Jacob’s chili last night.

    It is AWESOME. I made cornbread to go with it. MMMMmmMMM. Huge bowl of chili + corn bread + milk=ideal post workout meal. It was easy and unbelievably good. Just took a trip to the grocery store, plus 20 min prep time, then a lot of patience while it cooked. I’ve had Shiner Bock before and really like it (in college I thought of it as one of the best moderately priced beers and bought six packs for $5.50. Man, what happened to 2005 prices?) Unfortunately, they didn’t have it at my grocery store last night. So I got my region’s favorite local moderately priced lager, Yuengling, and used that. I don’t have a crock pot so I just used a mid sized soup pot on the stove with the lowest flame setting. I avoided all temptation to taste the chili until the 5 hour mark at 11 pm last night. Then I turned off the heat and let it just hang out while I slept. Turned it back on this morning, off while I went to the gym, and then on again when I got back around 2. Total cooking time: about 7 hours, plus like 10 hours resting time. It was totally worth the wait.

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