The search for chicken fried steak

Native North Carolinians just don’t know what they are missing! Chicken fried steak is food of the gods… so ridiculously delicious – true comfort food! Since we’re in the south (aka, land of sweet tea) I just assumed chicken fried steak would be popular here, too.

I was wrong.

Chicken fried steak is a thin piece of tenderized steak, breaded, and pan fried. And it’s always ALWAYS smothered in white cream gravy.

Texans also like to serve theirs on thick slices of Texas toast as a sandwich.

Or cut into strips {chicken finger style} and dipped in cream gravy.

To make it healthier {ha ha}, sometimes we sub the steak for a boneless/skinless chicken breast and call it chicken fried chicken.

Anyway you slice it, it’s good eatin’ that people in North Carolina are missing out on.

We’ve made three attempts to order it here.

First spot was Cracker Barrel. It’s a well known southern chain and the ones in TX have decent chicken fried steak. We were both confident they’d 1) have it 2) be as tasty as back home. Theirs was called country fried steak. Jason ordered it and as soon as it came, we knew it’d be disappointing. We are both fairly certain it was a frozen patty and not freshly battered. There is a difference! The gravy was decent, though.

Second spot was K&W Cafeteria. We talked all the way there about dining at Luby’s (another cafeteria chain) and always ordering chicken fried steak. We assumed they’d have a fabulous version. Cafeterias are masters of comfort food! We got in line and I see on the menu board that they have country style steak… just like at Cracker Barrel. They ask for your order while you’re still in the fruit/salad section and since I was first, I asked for the country style steak. She immediately asked if I wanted rice with it.

Rice?

With chicken fried steak?

What the what?

This is the point in which I should have backed out and ordered something else but I was on a mission.

I declined the rice and asked for mashed potatoes instead.

She took my plate down the way and scooped something out of a vat of brown gravy.

That was my “country style steak”

Jason saw her plating my dish so when asked what he wanted, he immediately said crab cakes. Lucky dog!

To be honest, it wasn’t bad. It was tender, and flavorful, it just wasn’t what I had in mind. And I’m not sure why they bother breading it in the first place because the whole thing is just mush…

Our third (sorta) attempt was at Texas Roadhouse. Yep, the chain. Except, of course, the menu was slightly different than the menu in Texas. Pulled pork was added to the menu and instead of chicken fried steak they had country fried sirloin. They also had country fried chicken! I opted for the country fried chicken, knowing that it’d tell us how the steak was at the same time.

When it arrived at the table, we both gave it a good once over. The gravy was white and well peppered. The piece of chicken was obviously freshly battered and not frozen. Truly my only complaint was the gravy. It was very floury and a bit pasty – the roux didn’t cook long enough, more than likely. But it was close! And a lot closer than our other attempts!

While we may return to Texas Roadhouse and give the “country fried sirloin” a shot, we’ll likely have to get our fix right in our own kitchen unless we’re back home in Texas.

And I still have NO idea what I’ll get if I order country fried steak/country style steak/country fried sirloin. So confusing!

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