Saturday, October 1, 2011


If it seems like our pace is slowing down--it is! The realities of school schedules, along with soccer, cello, fiddle and two separate orchestra practices per week have caught up with us. Our enthusiasm has not waned, however, we're just short on time!

Oklahoma is the only state kind enough to provide us with an official State Meal. Not for the dainty, it includes fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie and black-eyed peas. Whew!

We did not attempt everything on this list--far from it. We went with chicken fried steak and corn, with an additional side of greens which seemed appropriate despite their absence from the official menu.

My mother often made chicken fried steak when I was growing up. I hated it. I mean, I really loathed it--I complained and moaned bitterly every time she fixed it. Not surprisingly, I hadn't had it for years. As we got ready for this meal, my adult self wondered what could be so bad about fried meat?

We used round steak, which the butcher butterflied for us. Marc then further tenderized it with a fork, poking little holes and slightly stretching the pieces until they were even. The pieces were seasoned with salt and pepper, then dunked in egg wash and seasoned flour (more salt and pepper and some granulated garlic).

The pieces were fried lightly in peanut oil, until golden brown on either side.

When the meat was done, it was time to make gravy. (Gravy! How could I not like something that included gravy?!). Using the oil left in the pan, add about an equal amount of flour to make a roux. To that add about 2 cups of chicken stock, salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of thyme. When the mixture thickens, add milk (about a cup) and continue stirring until it is thick and smooth.

The greens we served on the side were a blend of turnip greens and swiss chard (which is what happened to be in our vegetable drawer!). We first cooked a few strips of bacon until they were nice and crisp, then removed them from the pan. In the leftover oil, sautee an onion until it has softened, then add chopped garlic and the cleaned, chopped greens. The tougher the green, the longer they should cook, although how tender they are is really a personal taste. Add some water or stock and cover. Cook over medium heat until you like the consistency. Top with crumbled bacon. (You could also chop the bacon first and leave it in to cook with the greens, I like that it stays crispy if you take it out while the greens cook).

This meal was a hit with everyone--including me! Marc, in fact, was reduced to a Homer Simpson-like stupor over it. Lucy also enjoyed it quite a bit. It got the "ok" rating from Maia. So, yes, I admit it, chicken fried steak is good. Please don't tell my mother!

We drew our next four: Iowa, Missouri, Virginia and Ohio

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