Amanda & Merrill

Chicken Fried Steak with Sage Gravy

January 28, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak with Sage Gravy

- Amanda

I remember my first chicken fried steak. It was in Houston, Texas, at the home of Jenny's in-laws. They were wise chicken fried steak aficionados, and cooked theirs in an iron skillet out on the patio on a squat little grill, where grease was welcome to spray the plants. The steaks came out of the pan wrapped in a warped brown and salty crust. It was my first time in Texas and knew from then on it would not be my last.

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A few weekends ago, I went to Oklahoma for a couple of book events, and got to hang out with Jeff Martin, the founder of Booksmart Tulsa, who may be the coolest guy north of Texas. At one of our stops -- lunch at Lucky's (go if you can) -- he talked me into chicken fried steak. It was just as delicious as I remembered it. This one came with a sage gravy. If you don't have guts for the gravy, a squeeze of lemon will work well (think veal Milanese). Just don't tell anyone in Tulsa I said that.

Chicken Fried Steak with Sage Gravy

Adapted from Matt Kelley, the chef and owner of Lucky's in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Serves 4

  • Four 1/4-inch thick ribeye steaks
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup plus 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat or butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage

1. Working with one steak at a time, lay the steak between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and flatten with a meat pounder to 1/8-inch thickness. Season with flattened steaks with salt and pepper.

2. Spread 1 cup flour on a large plate. Season with flour with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.

3. Again, working one steak at a time, dip the steak in the flour, lightly coating both sides. Next, dip the steak in the buttermilk mixture, letting any excess drip off. Then dip the steak in flour once more, lightly but completely coating the steak; shake off any excess flour. Set the coated steaks on a baking sheet until ready to use.

4. Heat the bacon fat or butter in a medium saucepan. Once it's hot, add the remaining 7 tablespoons flour, and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, then the cream, bring to a boil -- whisking all the time -- then reduce the heat and let the gravy simmer until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Meanwhile, cover the base of a large iron skillet with 1/8-inch canola oil. Place over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add as many steaks as will fit (probably just one or two), and brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Do the rest in batches. A splatter guard comes in handy if you don't want your stove covered in beef fat. As the steaks finish cooking, set them aside on a baking sheet.

6. When the steaks are nearly finished, whisk the gravy and add the sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Serve each steak with a ladleful of gravy.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Waldito February 1, 2011
Oh, thanks to Matt Kelley and his generosity. It looks terrific.
Myshell777 January 31, 2011
Mmmm, I've never been lucky to go to Lucky's...yet! I just may go this weekend!
Yes, thanks SO MUCH for coming to Tulsa! We loved having you. My only regret is they ran out of books so I didn't get one autographed. Sniff sniff. You are a doll. My friend ordered your Mr. Latte book and is loving it!
Myshell777 January 31, 2011
Oh, and I'm a twin so you having twins is just oh, so cool. They are the Best right?
Amanda H. January 31, 2011
Yes, love twin world!
Judy A. January 30, 2011
Hey Amanda,
Thanks so much for mentioning Jeff, BookSmart, Matt Kelley and Lucky's...four of my many favorite things about Tulsa!! We had such a great time with you here...hope to see you again soon!!
Amanda H. January 30, 2011
I loved Tulsa -- looking forward to returning!
liz T. January 30, 2011
amanda, thanks for the great posting about lucky's chicken fried steak...i'm the bartender at lucky's and i love love love your book... i can't wait to start trying your recipe's...i loved the cocktail section. and i have some of your drinks on my drink menu..wish i could have been able to meet you while you were in husband and i want to start with the boeuf bourguignon..any suggestions...peace and love..liz taylor pounds..
Amanda H. January 30, 2011
Love the boeuf bourguignon (both of them!). Start with the Kir Royale 38 (up your alley!), then have Madame Laracine's gratin Dauphinois with the boeuf, and end with Tourtiere or Madeleine Kamman's Apple Mousse. Enjoy -- and hope to meet you next time I go to Lucky's!
Kevin January 29, 2011
I'm thinking stuffed tator tots stuffed with various things - and the eaters can't tell what the stuffing is in advance. Surprise!
Amanda H. January 29, 2011
That sounds fun.
amysarah January 29, 2011
Years ago there was a Texan-owned place in the W. Village in NYC called Cottonwood Cafe that did a decent chicken fried steak (no doubt inferior to in situ, but it did the trick.) We used to go there once in a while for a fix - miss that.

But I digress. Mixed feelings about tinkering with the Tots. They were a major food group for my brother as a child (imagine my sophisticated-cook-mom's agony; yet, somehow he grew into a bona fide foodie.) I have to admit they're still an occasional guilty pleasure of mine - done really brown and crisp, with lots of ketchup. (Okay, I confess: Absolutely no guilt is involved. I'm shameless.) But, I'm not sure I'd like them Vongerichten'd or Keller'd ...they're more of a Popeye IyamwhatIyam kind of thing for me. Maybe if you called them Spud Doo Dads or Tater Nots or something I'd feel less conflicted. ;-)
Amanda H. January 29, 2011
You can always go back to your true tater tots post Keller'd varieties -- not to worry!
pierino January 29, 2011
Tater tot theme? Bring it on buttercup!
Amanda H. January 29, 2011
betteirene January 28, 2011
Where's the tender, fluffy biscuits? And no greens? First you fry the bacon to get the fat, then you cook the greens with the crumbled bacon. You put a scoop of mashed potatoes on the plate, then a mess of greens, then a fat slice of ripe tomato, then a scoop of grits, then the chicken fried steak slightly overlapping the potatoes and grits, and then you ladle the gravy over the meat, potatoes and grits and you garnish it with a tall hot biscuit and serve it with an icy glass of sweet tea with lemon. If you could put heaven on a plate, this is what it would look like, and if you eat this more than twice a year, you'll get to see the real heaven a lot sooner than you planned to. So Lord, here I come--I just made this last weekend and now I've got to see if this recipe is better than mine.
Amanda H. January 29, 2011
Sounds great. All of it.
innoabrd January 30, 2011
Will you adopt me?
NM E. January 28, 2011
French Fries. Crispy, salty, hand-cut French Fries smothered in the cream gravy. Yum.
Oh, & by the way, Oklahoma (all of it) is North of Texas...
pierino January 29, 2011
Gee, I always think of it as south of Nebraska.
Amanda H. January 29, 2011
Oh, dang, I knew I was going to be called out on that!
innoabrd January 30, 2011
And I always just thought it was a musical...
NM E. January 31, 2011
innoabrd... You clever smartypants! Sometimes called the single most influential work in American musical theatre .... sure can't say that about "Best Little Whorehouse" but we digress, don't we? :)
Amanda H. February 8, 2011
Couldn't take it anymore. Fixed, it's north!!
Kevin January 28, 2011
I'm thinking stuffed tator tots. An assortment of fillings so you don't know what you're about to eat.
Tastes B. January 28, 2011
One more reason to love the South. With a glass of sweet tea, i'm in heaven!
Kayb January 28, 2011
Sigh. I guess I'll have to turn in my credentials as a Southerner. I never have liked chicken fried steak. Nor am I that crazy about fried chicken. (And now I'm waiting for the lightning bolt to strike....)
Amanda H. January 28, 2011
You might want to stay in your car today.
avimom January 28, 2011
Not taters...grits.
Amanda H. January 28, 2011
Love that a grits vs taters debate is forming. A win-win.
mrslarkin January 28, 2011
holy moly. i'm gonna need some mashed taters with that.
thirschfeld January 28, 2011
I was sort a thinkin' some tater tots. I bet that gravy would make great dip for a tot
mrslarkin January 28, 2011
Tell me you make home made tots, thirschfeld. ;)
thirschfeld January 28, 2011
I've contemplated it. Somewhere I had a recipe I think by Vongereitchen. I bet he makes a killer tater tot. I will have to look into it.
Amanda H. January 28, 2011
I feel a tater tot theme in our future.
the P. January 28, 2011
this looks ridiculously good! my mouth is watering now & it's only breakfast time!
pierino January 28, 2011
Can't beat it. A guilty pleasure. And I do have the guts for the gravy. Sorry you had to go to Tulsa but it beats Marie Callendars.
Amanda H. January 28, 2011
I had no doubt you would have the guts for it!
Sasha (. January 28, 2011
Chicken fried steak with sage gravy ... it is so wrong, it's right! Thanks for including Tulsa on your book tour. :)
Amanda H. January 28, 2011
Glad you saw this!
thirschfeld January 28, 2011
somehow I knew it would make it back to NYC. Awesome, like the sage gravy, a lot.
Amanda H. January 28, 2011
Yes, Matt Kelley was super nice about sharing his recipe -- you're going to want to eat the gravy by the spoonful!