Chicken Fried Steak

800px-Flickr_wordridden_3397801155--Chicken_fried_steakA few weeks ago, I talked about American-style pizza, which is as popular here in the U.S. as hamburgers and French fries. Another dish that has a borrowed beginning (started somewhere else), but that people consider American, is the chicken fried steak.

Despite its name, there is no chicken in chicken fried steak. Chicken fried steak is a breaded cutlet: a thinly-sliced (cut with a knife) piece of steak (beef; cow meat) that has been coated (covered on the surface with) flour (powder you get from grain) and then pan-fried (cooked in a pan with a little hot oil). It is served with a cream gravy (light-colored thick sauce made with milk or cream) on top of it and usually with mashed potatoes on the side. Typically, you also eat it with a biscuit, a small, round piece of bread that you can use to sop up (for a liquid to be put on or soaked into bread for eating) the leftover (remaining) gravy.

Why is it called chicken fried steak if there is no chicken in it? The name comes from the preparation of the meat, which is similar to how fried chicken is made.

Chicken fried steak is very popular throughout the U.S., but it is considered Southern food, from the southern part of the United States. Two different towns in Texas claim (say without proof or evidence) to be the birthplace (place something is born or created) of the chicken fried steak, and one of the towns even has an annual (yearly) celebration of the dish (type of food).

No one really knows the origins (beginnings) of the chicken fried steak, but some people believe that it was brought to the U.S. by German and Austrian immigrants (people who move to a country to live) who cooked a similar popular dish called Wiener Schnitzel.  If it’s true, then the dish probably got a name change in the 1930’s, perhaps due to anti-German opinions leading up to World War II.

Sometimes this same dish is called “country fried steak” and the light-colored gravy is referred to as “country gravy.” The “country” part of the name refers to this dish being a Southern or rural (not city) dish, giving it a more homey (comfortable and cozy) kind of feeling. You’ll find this dish most often in casual American sit-down (not fast food) restaurants and diners (casual restaurants that serve sandwiches, hamburgers, and other casual food and are often open long hours). In addition to having it at lunch or dinner, you’ll also see it sometimes on the breakfast menu, served with eggs and bacon.

Is there a similar dish where you live?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit:  Chicken fried steak from Wikipedia   

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8 Responses to Chicken Fried Steak

  1. Dan says:

    Hi Lucy.

    Yes, in Italy it’s called “Cotoletta alla Milanese”.

    I used to eat that cooked by my mother. Now I am eating less meat.

    Kind of once a month.

    I like cooked vegetables, with tons of garlic and pasta.

    One of the advantages of being single is that you can eat all the garlic you want..and I do that!


  2. emiliano says:

    First time I hear about this food Lucy, but as I am something like a caveman
    indoors a lot of time, may be it could exist in Madrid but I don´t know.

    Thanks, it is always good to know about other food that could be really good
    to taste.


  3. Lucas (BRAZIL) says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Here in Brazil the dish is called “Bife à Milanesa” (“Steak Milanese”), probably for some Italian influence (there are many Italian immigrants in Brazil). It is an everyday dish in all regions of Brazil. It is very common that the steak is accompanied by mashed potatoes. But rarely is used any sauce.

    Best regards,


  4. emiliano says:

    Dear Lucy,

    I am very sorry as I can´t say anything about the dish you show us, but I could speak about Spanish typical food.
    Yes, I said something about it some years ago, even Betty asked me about some of the spanish food, but here
    I go again.

    Despite may be the best chefs of the world now are Spanish we don´t know how advertising our products, and yes
    it is a pity.

    Our “Tortilla de Patatas”is one of the best dishes a person may eat which ever hour of the day your apetite is good.
    Easy of cook but it is also difficult as every person cook it different and the taste changed so much.

    Of course my mother colked the best to me when I was Young, afterward Cuca´s tortillas de patatas were real good,
    and since a time to now Camila´s are the best.

    Cesar, a Ecuatorian friend of us has learnt how to cook tortilla de patatas also (he is going to be a madrileño too) and
    he cooks it perfectly well. Instead his couple Isabel (peruvian) doesn´t know how to cook it. She is very good cook
    but not to do a good “Spanish Tortilla” such a pity as she cook for us no at home.

    Another good food here, in Madrid, are “The Bocatas of Calamares”, you may eat them at the bars or tabernas here in
    the streets of Madrid.
    Madrileños through the world, there are lot of them, always miss these bocatas of calamares very very much.

    The sister in low of my daughter Eva, Maria who is living in Carolina of North USA, always cook “tortilla de patatas a la
    española” for all her americans friends when they go to her house. Her husband Stan, is a good tasted man who like
    Spanish food very very much.
    He is always asking his spanish wife Maria for Spanish food for him, his americans friends and family.

    Just a pity, we don´t know how to advertise our products and food.
    Also Spain is one of the most fish consumers of the worlk together with Japan, Islandia and Portugal.
    Here we consume 40 kg. a year by each person, …..just a lot if your consider childrens, and people
    that doesn´t like it.

    The best Spanish chefs know very well how to cook these dishes, one of the first here.

    That´s all friends, sorry Lucy, nothing to talk about chicken fried, as neve I have eaten this food
    despite I am sure it has to be really good.

    My best,


  5. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    In Brazil. there are a lot of dishes with chicken, including chicken feet, chicken boiled with vegetables, fried chiken, roasted chicken, filet of chicken, gizzard and heart on the grill and a lot more. Every dish with chicken is delicious for adult and children and are good for health because the meet is white, less blooded. Doctors recommend chicken for people in recovery from disease. You should come to Brazil and taste chicken in all its forms.
    Aecio from beautiful Brazil.

  6. Peter says:

    My dear professor Lucy,
    Thanks for the history lesson :))
    Frankly , I never heard of such a dish u addressed above. It must be popular just in U.S., unlike some well-known Food like Doner from Turkey or fish and chips from England.
    You see , the minute you say fish and chips , you need to say no more since immediately minds go to England as of all people almost all of them associate the snack with Britain. The same applies to Doner ,a big loaf of meat rotisseries vertically.
    Well, as you know they have become ,in a way , international dishes, borderless dishes if you will.
    U know, Your question is a bit vague.
    I mean , the answer to your question depending on your point of view about the steak chicken fried thing.
    should u see it as some sort of locally popular food or some worldwide known meal ?
    Presumably , your question is more of a local than international.
    Well, i must say , here in Toronto , I can’t think of any food that is associated peculiarly with Canada.
    The thing is ,as the nature of multiculturalism dictates , you find dishes of every existing tradition and culture here in Canada ,particularly in Toronto.
    Well, It is pretty much expected , given Canada is a young country with no rich culture compared to other countries in Asia and Europe.
    We don’t have any established dish as our own ,well ,not yet !!!
    Perhaps, at some point in the future.
    The way i see it , The number and assortment of local meals is riding completely on the popular life style in a given country.
    Allow me to Leave it at that
    The scoop of the blog does not allow me to expand the discussion any further.


  7. Kim-ds says:

    We, here in korea, have a dish that has borrowed beginning but people consider korean.
    That is called ‘jajangmeon’ which is noodle with a black colored thick source.
    It is believed that it’s from china but you can’t find food like ‘jajangmeon’ in china.
    ‘jajangmeon’ is as popular as hambuger in korea.
    If you have a chance to visit to korea, just try it.
    It will be a bit challange to you but worth it.

  8. Val says:

    Hi, guys! Here in Russia it’s called the steak too. We have so many types of steaks and cutlets, this is just one of them. But unlike many people I HATE cream sauces! =)

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