My man is like most men. He prefers a "meat and taters" kind of dinner and I made him a terrific meal the other night. My only problem in cooking meals like that is that we don't walk in the door until after 5:35 every weeknight. But I figured a way to make a great meal and I probably had this terrific "home cooking" type meal (known by lots of different names, "chicken fried steak", "breaded cube steak") within about 30 minutes.
How did I do it?
Well.. one of the best things I have discovered is that baking potatoes in the crockpot is the ONLY WAY TO GO! So easy. So, I had potatoes in the crockpot, breaded the meat and fried it in a skillet with a teensy bit of bacon grease (shhhh!), opened a can of vegetables and dinner was served. With this particular meal, I used the leftover flour and milk from breading the meat to make gravy (very frugal) and it was just A FEAST. Even though I'm not a "meat and potatoes man" (woman), I have to agree that this was a very satisfying meal!
My mom shared with me her tips for making "breaded cube steak" (that's what we call it) (because hers is THE BEST as far as I'm concerned) and I had great success with her method. I call it the, "double dip" method.
Here's how I made "meat and taters" AT HOME MY WAY:
Before I left for work:
I washed my potatoes (I actually did this the night before to save the morning rush from becoming too crazy). Before I left for work that morning, I tossed them in the crockpot (peeling on - no foil... just drop them in the crockpot), placed on the lid, switched the crockpot to low and headed out the door. They need to cook 8 hours, but that is no problem for me ha-ha.
Once I got home - potatoes were READY!
To make the breaded cube steak (chicken fried steak):
1 1/2 cup flour (or more, depending on how much meat you are cooking)
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cup milk
3-4 cube steaks
5 Tablespoons oil or bacon grease (being frugal, I save bacon grease and use that) you want enough to cover the bottom of a skillet, but not a deep puddle or anything ;)
Place flour, salt & pepper in a shallow bowl or pie pan. Stir throughout.
Place milk in a separate shallow bowl or pie pan.
First, open the meat, rinse if you wish to do that. Dredge the meat FIRST in flour. Then dip in milk (flip so both sides go in the milk), and AGAIN dredge in the flour (both sides). This double dipping is the key to my mother's delicious breaded cube steak.
Heat your skillet to medium. Once hot, place meat in the skillet. Let it cook a couple of minutes until brown on the underneath. Once brown, flip over to cook the other side. I continued cooking mine and flipping until the meat was done. You can see the juices running out if its not done yet. But, don't flip too early. You want that breading fully cooked to hold its shape and stay on the meat.
I made gravy. This is how I did it.
After all the meat was cooked, I turned up the skillet to heat the oil to hot. I stirred all the "drippings" to spread it all around good. Then, I dumped in the flour I used from breading the meat (approximately 1/2 cup). I stirred all around to absorb the flour in the grease (sorry... sounds gross, but its REALLY GOOD lol). Then I added the remaining milk that I had used from breading the meat (approximately 1/2 to 1 cup). Stir again to fully incorporate the flour into the liquid. Being the cheapo that I am, I did not want to add more milk and mine was pretty thick - too thick, so I added about 1/4 cup of water to this and kept stirring. I let it cook on medium and it became smooth and thick - GRAVY! YUM!
I remember eating this all the time when I was little. If we didn't have much meat, my mom cut the cube steaks into "steak fingers" and we were satisfied with a strip of meat, some gravy, and the potatoes, or we even sometimes just ate the gravy ladled over a slice of bread. This kind of meal really takes me back!