Wednesday, October 28, 2020

ABRAMS Dinner Party Spotlight on Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery...Featuring Chicken Fried Steak. #chefmattymatheson #HomeStyleCookery #ABRAMSDinnerParty #chickenfriedsteak #creamgravy #comfortfood

I've had a busy month trying out recipes from several of ABRAMS Books' Fall cookbook lineup as part of their 2020-21 Dinner Party blogging group. Today, I'm focusing on Canadian Chef Matty Matheson's new Home Style Cookery cookbook. This cookbook features 
135 of Chef Matty's personal favorite recipes that he cooks at home. Home Style Cookery is his comprehensive guide to mastering your kitchen. His recipes run the gamut from pantry staples (like breads and stocks) party favorites like dips and fried weeknight go-to meals like stews and pastas...and special-occasion recipes like roasted or smoked meats. There's even a chapter devoted to homey desserts! Most of the recipes are familiar enough to be comforting...with a few unexpected twists that make them modern and fun. 

Take, for example, his spin on a southern classic: chicken fried steak! Most of the time, you'll find chewy beef cutlets used and the entire dish smothered in a heavy cream gravy. For his Chicken Fried Steak, Matheson uses tender top sirloin that's pounded thin with a mallet. His light breading is crunchy, but it doesn't overpower the meat. A sprinkle of lemon on top just before serving provides a perfect pop of brightness to this dish. The homemade cream gravy uses chicken stock and milk in a 3-t0-1 ratio -- resulting in a lighter gravy that's definitely going to be my go-to cream gravy going forward. I'm a Native Texan, but this was my first time to make this quintessential Texas dish at home. We were thrilled with the end result!
Chicken Fried Steak
from Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery
Ingredients (makes 4 steaks):
For the chicken fried steak:
  • 1 1/4 lb. top sirloin, cut into four steaks
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour seasoned with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs [NOTE: I used seasoned bread crumbs because that's what was in my cupboard.]
  • 2 cups canola oil
For the gravy:
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour  
  • 1 cup chicken stock -- homemade or store-bought -- at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
For serving:
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, quartered, for garnish
Step 1: Place one of the top sirloin steaks between two pieces of plastic wrap on the counter. Using a meat mallet, pound the steak -- working from center and pounding out to the edges -- until the steak is thin. [NOTE: I pounded my steaks to 1/4" inch thickness.] Repeat until each steak is pounded thin. Next, set up your three-step breading station.

Place the flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Put the eggs in another shallow bowl and whisk. Finally, place the bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl. Season both sides of each steak with additional salt & pepper.
One at a time, bread the steaks. Dredge each steak in the seasoned flour. Remove and shake off any excess flour. Next, submerge each steak in the egg wash, making sure to let any excess egg drip off. Finally, dip each steak in the bread crumbs and evenly coat them.[NOTE: I firmly pressed each steak in the bread crumbs with clean hands to ensure an even coating on the entire steak.]

Step 2: Heat the canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Fry 1 or 2 steak portions per batch -- to prevent overcrowding -- for 3-5 minutes on each side. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot -- it should not be smoking at any point. Remove the steaks from oil and onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add more oil to the pan if needed to maintain a proper level, bring the oil up to temperature, and fry the remaining steaks. 
Step 3: While the steak is cooking, make the gravy. [NOTE: I fried the steaks, then set them in a warm oven (200℉) while I made the gravy. This allowed me to give my full attention to each component.] Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is light golden brown -- approximately 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock, then add the milk.
Bring the gravy to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook -- continuing to whisk constantly to prevent sticking -- until the gravy thickens. This will take about 5 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste. Add more stock, if necessary, to reach a spoonable consistency.

Step 4: While still hot from the oil, top the steaks with a sprinkling of lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon (if desired), and salt. Serve with warm gravy and lemon quarters.
Y'all -- why on Earth has it taken me so long to finally make chicken fried steak at home? This home-cooked version was a modern, lighter version of a dish I've grown up eating -- which I consider a good thing! I only indulge in restaurant chicken fried steak once or twice a year. That's because the ratio of crust to meat tends to skew toward a heavy crust encasing a thin piece of steak. Then? It's typically smothered with a dense, peppery cream gravy. Chef Matty's
 modernized chicken fried steak definitely allows the quality of the Angus top sirloin shine through. The luscious gravy was perfect spooned on top of -- without completely covering -- the finished steaks. And the lemon zest? I was a bit skeptical...but the brightness it provided was a perfect flavor component!! We served our chicken fried steaks with garlicky green beans and my Mom's signature mashed potatoes. Talk about pure comfort!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery as part of ABRAMS Books' Dinner Party blog group. All opinions shared are solely my own.

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