Chicken Fried Steak with Sawmill Gravy

Chicken Fried Steak. Also known as Country Fried Steak. Did anyone else meander through life at the very least slightly confused the first time you heard this recipe’s name? Was it chicken? Was it steak? Did you fry chicken and steak together? What on Earth was going on?! At some point along the way, I figured out through reading a menu or being told (I have no idea which), that chicken fried steak was essentially just battered and fried steak. It seems that the word “chicken” got thrown in because at the end of the day, the fried steak looks like fried chicken. Leave it to the culinary world to confuse the masses. Now that we’ve gotten the nomenclature out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Battered. Fried. Steak. Smothered in gravy. This must be what dinner is like in heaven.

I actually hadn’t tasted this until a couple of years ago when out to eat with my Chief Culinary Consultant. It’s one of his favorite dishes, so when he ordered it and I said I’d never tried it before, he insisted that I take a bite. I barely chewed before I knew I had stumbled upon something utterly amazing. Fast forward to a month ago. I was flipping through my new copy of the The Homesick Texan Cookbook and my CCC pointed out chicken fried steak on one of the pages. It immediately went on my dinner bucket list, no questions asked. We finally got around to making it and found that, (1) it wasn’t nearly as difficult or time-consuming as I imagined it might be; and (2) it’s crazy delicious and deserves to be made at home without a second thought.

Now, sometimes chicken fried steak is served with a basic white gravy (made with a little fat, flour, and milk), and sometimes it’s served with sawmill gravy. Sawmill gravy is made the exact same way, except that it includes some crumbled breakfast sausage. I know what you’re thinking – sausage on top beef?? Look, we’re already battering and frying meat. Nothing was going to stop me from throwing a little sausage into the gravy. It takes the gravy to a completely euphoric level. Now I want everything I eat to be smothered in this gravy. It’s amazing. This whole dish is amazing. From the steak, to the gravy, to my favorite mashed potatoes, and even a tiny bit of vegetables – the whole thing is out of this world. I hear that buttermilk biscuits are also a popular side to the chicken fried steak meal. I will be sure to include those next time! Because there will certainly be a next time. Many, many next times.

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Chicken Fried Steak

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Steaks:
1½ pounds top-round steak
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 eggs
½ cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Sawmill Gravy:
¼ pound breakfast sausage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole milk
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Cut the top-round steak into four pieces. Working with one piece at a time, place on a sturdy cutting board or clean countertop, cover with a large piece of plastic wrap, and pound the beef with a meat tenderizer until flattened and almost doubled in size (you want the meat to be about ¼-inch thick). Repeat with the remaining pieces. Sprinkle pieces of beef with salt and black pepper.

2. In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. In another large, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk. Take a piece of the tenderized meat and dip it in the egg mixture. Next, place the meat in the bowl of seasoned flour. Turn to coat it thoroughly. Place the meat back into the egg mixture, turning to coat. Finally, return it back to the flour mixture, ensuring that it is evenly coated on both sides. Place on a clean baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces of meat.

3. In a large, 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat ½ inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until a small fleck of flour dropped in the pan sizzles. Carefully place one or two pieces of the meat (whatever fits comfortably without overcrowding) into the skillet. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the blood starts bubbling out of the top of the steak. Using a pair of tongs, gently turn over the steaks and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove the steaks to a cooling rack to drain while you finish frying the remaining steaks. You can place the cooked steaks in a 200-degree oven to keep warm.

4. Finally, make the sawmill gravy. (You can start this in another pan while the last piece of steak is cooking.) In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned, crumbling it as it cooks. With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage from the skillet and place on a plate. Drain the oil from the pan, reserving 2 tablespoons in the skillet (if your sausage didn't yield enough drippings, you can use vegetable oil to get to the 2 tablespoons). Sprinkle the flour over the drippings, and whisk together, cooking for about 2 minutes, until a dark roux is formed. Add the milk slowly to the skillet, whisking continuously. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue whisking until the mixture is thickened, about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the reserved sausage, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. (If the gravy is too thick, you can thin it by whisking in more milk, a tablespoon at a time.)

5. Serve the steaks with the sawmill gravy poured over top.

Note: You can purchase cube steak, which is already-tenderized cuts of round steak, and omit step 1 up until the last line - be sure to still season with salt and pepper!

(Recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)

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54 Responses to “Chicken Fried Steak with Sawmill Gravy”

  1. ala-kat on May 17, 2012 at 12:14 am

    I have been eating chicken fried steak with white gravy all of my life – many years. I just love this stuff!! Comfort food all the way. Haven’t had it in a couple of years and now my mouth is just watering for it. Shame on you for that :)

    Reply

  2. Diane on May 17, 2012 at 12:17 am

    How are you not 400 lbs. and why aren’t we neighbors? ;)

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 17th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      I love both of these questions :) I try to eat well about 80% of the time and save my indulgences for things that are really worth it, and not go overboard when I do. I also share most of the food I make :) As for being neighbors, Pittsburgh could always use more foodies!

      Reply

  3. Jen of My Tiny Oven on May 17, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Wow, I am drooling! I am going to be dreaming about this Chicken Fried Steak all night! Looks Amazing!

    Reply

  4. Margot C on May 17, 2012 at 1:07 am

    This is such a super great dish. I grew up in New Orleans where you don’t see it much, but used to have it at my grandmother’s house in Dallas (Texas that is, so they know about Chicken Fried Steaks). I never heard it called Sawmill gravy, but I’ve had that gravy too (it’s particularly good on biscuits Slingblade style). Anyway, I always understood that the idea behind it was to do something with the left-over sausages and sausage bits from breakfast and I do indeed associate this meal with lunch and subsequent naps.

    Reply

  5. Linda on May 17, 2012 at 4:05 am

    I grew up eating chicken fried steak with cream gravy and ate if for years until I had diabetes. Might eat it on a special occasion now. Love it too.

    Reply

  6. Priyanka on May 17, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Wow thats a wonderful dish. So tempting.
    The pics are lovely

    Reply

  7. Jennifer on May 17, 2012 at 7:30 am

    One of the best comfort foods on the planet! I love this stuff. Rarely ever eat it because I’d be HUGE, but still, I love it, and it makes me think of home and growing up when it never mattered what I ate because we’d play outside for hours and we were growing like weeds.

    Reply

  8. Sandra on May 17, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Yes, yes and yes again!

    Reply

  9. Lauren on May 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Excuse me while I lick my screen.

    Reply

  10. Kristy on May 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I don’t even like steak but this looks so delicious.

    Reply

  11. colleen @ Secrets fromthe Cookie Princess on May 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I love that you have such a beautiful description of sawmill gravy, or sausage gravy as my husband calls it…with an added shudder because he HATES it. I can’t wait to share this recipe with him and show him that regular people like sausage gravy and it’s not weird!

    Reply

  12. Griffin's Grub on May 17, 2012 at 11:06 am

    You poor deprived thing, not having this wonderful meal until a few years ago. Good thing is now you know how to cook it and it looks like you nailed it. I would take a plate of yours any day of week. Wonderful job.

    Reply

  13. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Now this looks delicious, a meal that my husband will appreciate!!

    Reply

  14. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on May 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Yum, the gravy sounds so good with the chicken fried steak. I think I may be craving this now.

    Reply

  15. Stephanie on May 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

    The first time I had Country (Chicken) Fried Steak was in Houston. With a side of Fried Pickles!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 17th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      I looooove fried pickles!

      Reply

  16. Laura @ The Salty Kitchen on May 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Why do you do this to me???!!! I’m soooo trying to eat salads to get ‘in shape’ for swimsuit season, and you go and show me this. Guess I’ll be looking for swimsuit coverups instead, since I’ll be making this soon. My husband sends you his utmost thanks in advance for this recipe. It is also one of his favorites!

    Reply

  17. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on May 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Ooh this looks delicious! And so unhealthy aha, I’ve never heard of sawmill gravy before but it sounds like something I can definitely get on board with!

    Reply

  18. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious on May 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    That crumbled sausage gravy looks AH-MAZING!

    Reply

  19. Faye on May 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Brown Eyed Baker,
    I live in the UK and was wondering what would be our equivalent to Top Round Steak? I’v tryed looking throughout the Internet but have had no clear definition! Really would like to try this tasty recipe, hope you can help…
    Thanks

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 17th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Hi Faye, Oooh good question. I’ve actually never been to the UK, so I am completely unaware of how meat is sold there. You basically want a boneless “round” steak, which is the primal cut of beef. If you’re unsure, ask your local butcher or the meat department at your grocery.

      Reply

    • ssmiley on June 12th, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Hi Faye, It has to do with what part of the animal the cut is taken from. I was just looking in a cook book recently that shows the cuts of beef and where on the animal they come from. Perhaps if you could see one of those cutting guides or whatever, you could see where it is from. I think it is all basically round steak, but top or bottom one may be a better cut.

      Reply

    • Leigh on August 9th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Honey,
      Any kind of steak will work but cubed steaks or a very tender cut will work best for a tender melt in your mouth dinner

      Reply

    • Channing on September 10th, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      Hi Faye,

      I’m not sure if this is helpful, but I’m a Texan married to an Aussie, and he has informed me that in Australia their equivalent cut is called “minute steak”. Hopefully that has some sort of meaning for you beyond “top round” or “cube steak”! :) Chicken fried steak is a true Texan delicacy!

      Reply

  20. raquel@eRecipe.com on May 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    With the way you describe this dish I am already drooling. Each line I read made me hungry and making me wish I could pull this out of my screen. Yummy! =)

    Reply

  21. Shelley on May 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    All I can say is YUM!!!

    Reply

  22. Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry on May 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Completely awesome! I used to work at Chili’s and everyone would order the Country Fried Steak by calling it “Chicken Fried Steak,” and then they would be confused…so funny!

    Reply

  23. Martha in KS on May 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    This reminds me of the time Jessica Simpson was eating Chick of the Sea & asked her poor then-husband if it was chicken or fish. Ding dong!

    We called this cubed steak, when I was growing up. Not to be confused with tube steak (hot dogs). Ah, the bliss of living in Kansas. :-)

    Reply

  24. Lindsey on May 17, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I make mine the same exact way except just like my grandmother I use self-rising flour. This is my husbands all time favorite.

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 17th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Oooh, I’m intrigued by the self-rising flour! I might give that a try next time!

      Reply

  25. amanda @ fake ginger on May 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Ooh, one of my husband’s alltime favorites! I need to make it for him.

    Reply

  26. Krissy's Creations on May 17, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    What a perfect comfort food! Great recipe!

    Reply

  27. Chrissymama on May 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I have always enjoyed chicken fried steak, but now that I’m on my healthy diet. For the past two months I’ve been losing weight and eating more healthfully– which still allows me to eat this sort of stuff…occasionally and in moderation.

    Regardless, while it tingles my tastebuds I will have to give this one a pass…at least for the nonce. Looks good though!

    Reply

  28. Tracey on May 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Haha, I was SO confused about chicken fried steak until just recently when I learned what it was. I still haven’t tried it but it sounds like it’d be a huge hit here! Love the Homesick Texan cookbook, I want to make everything in there!

    Reply

  29. Debra Kapellakis on May 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

    My first thought was, mmmmm…that looks like what my Mom made us when we were growing up in Texas, a little while later…boom Homesick Texan, yep!!! thank you for sharing

    Reply

  30. Peggy on May 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Oh I love chicken fried steak – and I agree with you – I was quite confused when I first came in contact with it, but I quickly became a fan =)

    Reply

  31. Georgia on May 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Whenever I make this, the coating always falls off. It’s like steam gets under the coating and will not stick. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Georgia, A little of mine fell off as well. Your best bet is to make sure the steaks are completely dry when you start, so pat them repeatedly with a paper towel to remove any moisture. This will give the coating the best chance to stick.

      Reply

      • kati on April 30th, 2013 at 5:46 pm

        also– check the temp of your oil– it needs to be REAL hot to keep the “crust” on– i’m dieting and this looks A-MA-ZING! – at the end of my 24 day challenge (www.sparkrulz.com) i am making this and next to anything chocolate i will definitely be checking your website again! THANKS FOR THIS!!!!

        Reply

        • derek on February 6th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

          Sure fire way to keep the breading on. Coat in flour mixture first and let sit for 10min. This allows time for the gluten in the flour to adhear to the meat. I always had my breading sliding off until I started doing this. Something new I tried the other night. I used thin sliced pork chops instead of beef. No need to tenderize and O so good.

          Reply

          • Michelle on February 6th, 2014 at 8:38 pm

            Thanks for sharing this tip!

            Reply

  32. Crystal @ A Lovin' Forkful on May 20, 2012 at 3:07 am

    I have never made chicken fried steak. I love it though, and your recipe looks so amazing! :)

    Reply

  33. katie on May 21, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Oh this sounds and looks so delightful! I haven’t had country fried steak in forever… I think I might just need to make this stat!

    Reply

  34. RisaG on May 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I had this when I was in FL last year. I had never had it before and I fell in love at first bite. I want to make it. One day. So crispy on the outside, and so yummy on the inside.

    Reply

  35. Lauren | Hippie Dog Company on May 22, 2012 at 9:29 am

    OHHHH those photos look AHHHMazing!!! Country Fried Steak is one of my main diet weaknesses. I would rather have it than chocolate!! Thanks for this great recipe!

    Reply

  36. Jamie | My Baking Addiction on May 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I think I thought Chicken Fried Steak was chicken with incredible gravy until about 2 years ago! Definitely going to give this one a try – total comfort food!

    Reply

  37. natasha@perfectpantry on May 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Droolingggg these pics look great..i love chicken but I havent tried chicken steaks with gravy before thanks for this great reciepe cant wait to try it!

    Reply

  38. Jona on October 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    i am truly appreciating every recipies you’ve posted, especially this one. it just rocks! :)

    Reply

  39. Sue on October 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I make my version of sawmill gravy with bacon; at our house bacon would be a condiment if we would get the flavor without the fat!

    Reply

  40. Frank in Kansas on March 26, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Pretty tasty!!! Thanks!!

    Reply

  41. Zora Okane on April 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    In case you prefer stir fried vegetables and steak, you could possibly come up with a meal using both. As opposed to common perception, steak recipes and stir fry recipes don’t actually need to be different. I attempted this particular Pepper Steak Stir Fry at-home once, and even my children really love them. They love it a lot for that matter that they can actually eat the veggies! We were amazed and it has now, turn out to be one of our own family day meals since that time. To get an easy and wholesome meal, go through methods below.*

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    Reply

  42. Daralyn on June 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I am from Texas and I grew up eating this and its counterpart, Chicken Fried Chicken. Now that I’m living on the west coast, I make it whenever I’m missing home. My mother always added a little grated paremesan cheese to her flour she coated the chicken with for a little extra flavor/crunch.

    Reply

  43. Angela on February 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I have lived in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In each place, I have found Chicken Fried Steak to be served with white gravy and Country Fried Steak to be served with a brown gravy. In fact, I once had a born and raised Texan lecture me on the fact that these are two different dishes and the gravy is what differs between the two. Oh, and I have never had either gravy with meat in them served on my steak. (Maybe that’s a regional thing?)

    Reply

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