I almost never eat breakfast. Too much food at the beginning of the day makes me sluggish. But if I go out for brunch, I always try the chicken-fried steak. It’s the gold standard of any brunch place.
My friend Carl is a chef whose dad owned a diner. He and I used to have chicken-fried steak-offs. We tried different kinds of beef and found out rib-eye is a waste of good steak. It’s too wet for chicken-fried steak. You want a tough, dry piece with that saltine-cracker crust.
Buy a super-cheap cut of beef. Pound it with a spiky meat hammer or a Jaccard meat maximizer. The old-school diners and butcher shops use blades to slice that cut of meat, which they call mechanical tenderization.
Then, use the standardized breading procedure. Give that meat a light dusting of flour, an egg wash, and then a layer of finely crushed Saltine crackers. Fry up the meat in a cast-iron skillet with about an inch of hot oil. It should take you about 3 minutes per side. Serve it with a Southern milk gravy, with sausage or not. When you make it right, that chicken-fried steak should be light and tender.
Chicken-fried steak, baby!
If you’re in the mood for some new breakfast ideas, we have some great new recipes on ChefSteps for you.
Back when I was 13, I did a job shadow in a hotel. That’s the first place I learned to make a big batch of hollandaise for the hotline every morning. And now we’ve made that hollandaise easy for you.
A couple of years ago, I started playing with boiling my omelettes. Daniel Patterson did this with scrambled eggs. It makes sense because the eggs instantly soufflé. Since anything worth doing is worth overdoing, I took boiled scrambled eggs one step further and made omelettes. Now you can too.
People, stop cooking jam! Unless you need to make cases of jam that have to be shelf stable for months in your larder, start making freezer jam. It’s so bright in color and flavor. Once you have made it, you will never go back.
Of course, we have lots of breakfast ideas for you on ChefSteps already. Fluffy yeasted doughnuts, amazing chewy bagels from scratch, Kouign-Amann, and rich as f*$k biscuits—these are only the start.
Yes, some of our recipes do require a subscription to our ChefSteps Studio Pass for access. As Sam Sifton wrote in his NY Times newsletter, “Yes, you need a subscription to access these. In return, we won’t just keep working hard to bring you the best recipes in the world. We will get to keep working!” (Thanks, Sam!)
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If you are still thinking about breakfast, try this Irish mackerel breakfast from Jamie Oliver. I’m always trying to get my wife to cook more. She LOVES this 5-ingredient cookbook that Jamie Oliver and his team published this year. I’m a huge fan.
When I want to go out for brunch in Seattle with friends, I usually tell people to go to Boat Street Kitchen. It’s still so great.
And finally, I just want to throw it out there—use fresh herbs in your breakfast right now. The herbs in my garden are going crazy: chives, tarragon, and marjoram. Use up your herbs before they disappear.