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Chicken-fried steak may be one of the most delicious dishes in the state, and with a little help, it’s easy to conquer at home.
By Greg Elwell
Published November/December 2018
The Miller Grill in Yukon serves hearty fare like Indian tacos, breakfast nachos, and this massive chicken-fried steak.
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
Everyone who visits Oklahoma should try a chicken-fried steak. Guards should be posted at the borders, ensuring that all who pass through the state order this dish at least once while they’re here. Along with the El Reno-style onion burger, the chicken-fried steak is deeply ingrained in the state’s culinary history. This is cattle country, after all. And since not every part of the cow is so easily prepared as the filet, those who came before us found ways of making lesser cuts more palatable. Brisket is best smoked low and slow. Some roasts require long braises to render the meat tender and flavorful.
“Some primal cuts just have to get beat,” says Jason McCormack, owner of The Miller Grill in Yukon.
Plenty of cooks use round steaks cut from the hindquarters, but McCormack prefers the more tender shoulder steak at his restaurant.
“It’s not as pretty, but it’s way more tender,” he says.
Once the steak is selected and pounded to about a quarter of an inch thick, McCormack dredges it in seasoned flour and then immerses the meat in a mix of beaten eggs and Bulgarian buttermilk before giving it a second roll in the flour, which is vital for developing flavor in the crust. This process also keeps the breading in place, preventing the “meat island” problem, in which the steak retreats to the center and leaves a sea of empty crust behind.
After the steak is prepped, it should go directly into a skillet. Although McCormack uses a deep fryer in the restaurant, at home, a cast-iron skillet is the best way to go. The intense heat of the pan quickly crisps up the crust, while the edges of the skillet prevent any leftover fried bits in the oil from escaping. Those quickly can be turned into a creamy, flavorful gravy. While the chicken-fried steak certainly is the main event, McCormack says it’s not a meal until you add in a pile of freshly mashed potatoes and a side of fried okra—or one of a dozen other options. That’s the kind of dinner we should be requiring every visitor to Oklahoma to enjoy. The nap they’ll need after eating this dish won’t be mandatory, but it sure will feel right.
The Miller Grill, 326 Elm Avenue in Yukon, (405) 265-2775.