Thursday, April 5, 2012

Country Fried steak, ie. . . there will be no leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

When I think of Country Fried Steak I think of the steak covered in this thick breading and covered with the white gravy.  I have never really liked that.  Then I looked in the Green Cookbook and found the recipe for it.  So different and so good.

First, I feel I must describe the Green Cookbook.  That is not actually the name of the cook book, the real name is Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, put together by Meta Given's.  The first copyright is in 1947, ours is the 1952 copyright.  This book has a story behind it as well (like everything!)  When my husband went off to college his mother handed him this cookbook to take with him - figuring this is all he would ever need for cooking.  He loved this cookbook for it really has everything in it (which I will get to a little later).  His mother used this book when he was a child, and when she passed away in '97 this cookbook became even more special to him.

After we were married for several years my FIL came to visit.  He and my MIL were divorced long before I ever met my husband, and he had remarried a wonderful woman named Jake.  They were visiting for a few days.  During that time we went to the mall where they had an antique show of sorts going on.  My FIL purchased a book from one of the vendors.  We we got back to our home that evening he pulled out the book, and it was the green cookbook.  He told us the story of how his mother, who passed away in '96, gave him this green cookbook when he went off to college.  He was sad that at some point he had lost the cookbook, because it was such a wonderful cookbook.  My husband then went into our kitchen and produced the cookbook that he was talking about - the actual one that was given to him.  After discussing it we thought it would be best if we traded, sending the original cookbook back to its owner.  Thus we still have this cookbook, and my FIL has the book his mom gave to him.

Now on to the cookbook - this thing is like a photo book into history!  Those who personally know me know that I am a dietitian - now my heart is a public health pediatric dietitian - so I love anything that revolves around food or nutrition.  This book is really like a step back in time.  It has a full years worth of menus.  A FULL YEAR!  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are in this menu, and it goes by date.  For example here is today's menu in the book:
Tomato Juice
French Toast
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Creamed Peas
Bread, Butter
Canned Cherries
Braised Oxtails
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Buttered New Cabbage
Bread and Butter Pickles
Glorified Rice
That was for today!  I personally believe you can tell a lot about a person by the way they eat!  That is why I became a dietitian, I am such a food geek!  Reading this really makes me realize that women of this time period spent the entire day in the kitchen!

This book starts right out with "The Meal Planner's Creed.", then goes into diet patterns!  There are the ten classifications of food that you should serve in a day, then it further goes on to discuss each vitamin and mineral.  I know - I am such a geek that I am captivated by this - but it is just so cool!  In here for each section it also discusses how to shop, how to tell if fruit is fresh, how to tell if meat is fresh, it really is a great cookbook for someone to follow to figure out what they are doing in the kitchen.

And the recipes - all I have made are great.  They are old school, Grandma like, comfort food great!  1699 pages of greatness in this book!

So now I will get to the country fried steak.  We started making this when my son was on a gluten free diet.  Everything we made then was from scratch and this cookbook was a really great place to go to for home cooked recipes.  I didn't have high hopes for it when I first made it, thinking of how much I didn't like the country fried steak I have had in the past, but then I made this one.  I can say it is always a hit and there are NEVER any leftovers.  It doesn't matter how much meat I use to make this - 1 1/2 pounds (usually what I make for our family of 6) - or the one time I made it with 3 pounds of meat - there is never any left and  the kids ALWAYS fight over the last piece.  Here we go - the recipe is typed as it is found in the cookbook.

Country Fried Steak
  • 1 1/2 pounds of steak, cut into card size pieces and pounded to almost paper thin.
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Bacon fat
  • Water
"For frying, have steak sliced from boneless chuck or top round of beef of grades no lower than US Good.  If buying lower grades, use sirloin, porterhouse or club steaks.  Allow 1 1/2 pounds, cut into 1/2 inch thick for 5 people.  Pound with a wooden mallet or edge of heavy saucer until almost paper thin.  (Many butchers have special mallets or machines to prepare "cubed" or "minute" steaks.)  Dredge in four mixed with salt, allowing 1 teaspoon salt for each pound of meat.  Heat 2 tablespoons of shortening (I use bacon fat here) until sizzling hot in a heavy skillet;  lay in steak, and brown quickly on both sides.  It should then be done.  Transfer to a platter and cover to keep hot.  Make pan gravy from the residue in the pan (p. 1000 - I will add that here at the end).  Steaks are best when cut in serving portions before cooking."

Pan Gravy (as found in the cookbook)
"This type of gravy is never thickened.  It may be made from the drippings and residue left on the rack and drip pan in the broiler, or from drippings left from roast, fried or pan broiled meat.  All excess grease should be poured or skimmed off.  Then a small amount of water poured over the racks or into the ban with any browned residue, and the pan or rack is carefully but thoroughly scraped with a wooden spoon to loosen the particles.  When all the this residue is removed, the rack may be taken off the broiler pan.  The gravy is then stirred into the broiler pan, or skillet over low heat until all the particles are dissolved.  Taste to decide if gravy must be concentrated for best flavor, or if more hot water is needed.  Season if necessary.  Heat to boiling and pour over the hot meat or serve in a separate heated gravy boat."

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