GSA’s Sunday Eating Club: Southern Chicken Fried Steak

By Rachael Reagan

Rachael Reagan shares a little backstory and a recipe for chicken-fried steak, a Southern classic.  The Gastronomy Students Association hosts a bi-monthly Sunday Eating Club event.  To see all the GSA’s events, please visit our Calendar.

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Chicken fried steak and gravy with buttermilk biscuits and blackberry jam (Photo by Lauren Kauffman)

“So wait, is it chicken or is it steak?”

This question surely arises from both Yankees and novice Southerners alike anytime chicken fried steak appears on the menu. Even fine gastronauts-in-training, many of who attended the latest Sunday Eating Club function on September 28th, have questions regarding the nature of this indulgent, deep-fried dish. Referring to its cooking method, chicken-fried steak is steak that has been deep fried like chicken. Traditionally served as the star of any Southern meal, chicken fried steak is almost always served in a pool of peppery gravy flanked by mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits. A first-year student originally from Oklahoma, I gladly shared the southern classic with Gastronomy students Sunday night at the Gastronomy Students Association’s second Sunday Eating Club meeting of the semester.

Not forgetting the standards of southern hospitality, the evening began with two dips very common in Southern states: Rotel dip and white queso. Though white queso is mainly considered a Tex-Mex staple, it nevertheless appears in almost any kind of restaurant menu. Rotel dip, consisting of equal parts cream cheese and Rotel brand canned diced tomatoes (no other diced tomatoes will work) can be seen served at almost any tailgate throughout the south.

With the guests happily occupied with two varieties of cheese, the biscuit-making procedure began. Cutting in lard and butter into a sifted dry mixture, I explained the difference between a drop biscuit and a rolled biscuit. Though virtually the same, families have fought for years over the superior method. Rolled biscuits require a rolling pin, biscuit cutter, and patience. Drop biscuits, as their name suggests, are simply dropped by the spoonful onto a buttered and floured baking sheet.

The process of frying chicken-fried steak is a long one, and the evening had the laid-back nature of any southern meeting. Though long and intensive, the steaks were well worth the wait. The backdrop of easy conversation and sizzling oil made conditions perfect for enjoying a sinful fried steak with gravy.

Sunday Suppers are held by the Gastronomy Students Association twice each month and encourage students to share a food or food custom with their peers. Here is my recipe for Chicken Fried Steak:

Chicken Fried Steak

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt (preferably Lawry’s)
  • ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 pounds cube steak (or top round), tenderized and cut
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Oil for frying (preferable neutral oil)
  1. Mix together whole milk and eggs in a shallow dish and set aside.
  2. Mix together flour, seasoned salt, pepper, salt, paprika, cayenne, garlic salt, and onion salt in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  3. Dredge meat in flour mixture then egg mixture, then again in flour mixture. Set aside dredged meat on clean plate. Repeat with all pieces.
  4. Add about an inch of oil to a large skillet.
  5. Add the steaks to the oil three at a time, cooking about three minutes on each side. Transfer fried steaks to paper towel lined plate.

Gravy

  • Flour
  • Whole Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Without removing any grease from the pan, slowly add flour to grease whisking constantly until a thick consistency is reached
  2. When the flour has combined with the grease to form a paste-like consistency, add milk slowly.
  3. While whisking in milk, carefully watch the mixture to ensure desired consistency is reached. After desired consistency is reached, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately over steaks.

The Gastronomy Student Association Cookbook is here!

Screen shot 2014-04-03 at 11.10.13 AMThe first ever Gastronomy Student Cookbook is now available! With 49 student, alumni, faculty, and staff contributing nearly 100 recipes, the cookbook is a great representation of our program’s love for all things food.

The cookbook is a fantastic way for students, alumni, and instructors to remember their time in the program and all the wonderful people they have met. Personally, I plan on using it as a sort of yearbook by collecting signatures and pictures of friends to reminisce on. Cheesy, sure, but this program, and the people in it, have had such a huge influence on my life, I don’t want to forget a thing.

Perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, Graduation, and sharing with family and friends, cookbooks are only $10 (plus $4 s/h, if required). You can purchase them from any current or newly elected executive committee member, at any GSA event or Gastronomy@BU Lecture Series, or by contacting gastronomystudents@gmail.com and arranging for pick-up or shipping.

Select recipes include:
Blue Cheese Savories by Barbara Rotger, Staff and Alumna, class of ’11
Fermented Kimchi by Kimi Ceridon, Current Student
Minestra di Fagioli by Carole Counihan, Instructor
Mediterranean Shrimp by Kari Pierce, Current Student
Chocolate Brownies by Stephanie Hersh, First Program Graduate, class of ’97

I hope everyone takes advantage of this fabulous cookbook and enjoys the amazing recipes submitted by members of our very own Gastronomy Program.

Happy Cooking!

Audrey Reid
GSA President
2014 MLA Candidate

Career Advice on Food Writing and Culinary Tourism

by Carlos Olaechea

There’s no doubt that Gastronomy students have a passion for food, but sometimes it helps to have some professional insight into how we can turn that passion into a career.  With many of our peers taking advantage of Boston Globe dining editor Sheryl Julian’s food writing class, and increased interest in visiting places for their food and beverages as much as their sights, a career in food writing and culinary tourism is on the minds of many students.  On Thursday, February 6th, 2014, the BU Gastronomy Students Association hosted a discussion panel that addressed those career paths.  The event featured Catherine Smart and Peggy Hernandez, both reporters for the Boston Globe’s dining section, as well as Lauren Cicione, who organizes wine tours in Italy for connoisseurs.

Catherine Smart is a graduate of the BU Gastronomy Master’s program, and, when she is not submitting articles to the Globe, she is working hard as a personal chef.  As most writing gigs are freelance and don’t provide a steady source of income, Smart says it’s a good idea to have another job.  She is thrilled with her personal chef business, which she finds both enjoyable and lucrative, and recommends students take the Culinary Arts Laboratory if they wish to follow in her footsteps.

Smart also advises that persistence and networking are key in developing a career in food writing, with which Peggy Hernandez couldn’t agree more.  A longtime Globe veteran, Hernandez began her career as a news reporter covering “crime and grime” in the late 80s and early 90s before her husband’s job had them moving abroad.  Upon returning to the US, Hernandez began freelancing for the Globe’s dining section and is known for her in-depth coverage of food trends. Both Hernandez and Smart strongly advise writers to join networking sites such as Muck Rack and LinkedIn to help brand themselves as serious writers.

Lauren Cicione got her start in culinary tourism quite by accident.  Working in the New York City art world, she was no stranger to wining and dining.  Once the recession hit, the market for fine art dwindled, and Cicione decided that a sojourn in Italy would be ideal.  It was there that she befriended small wine producers in Piedmont and Tuscany, and, before long, had an exclusive business organizing Italian wine tours for the most discerning connoisseurs.

Like Smart and Hernandez, Cicione says that networking is key, as the majority of her clients are referred to her by word-of-mouth.  She also says that it is important to do your research when planning to start a business: look at your competitors to see what they’re doing and how much they’re charging, and don’t forget that your time and knowledge are valuable.  Beware of selling yourself short, while you want to be reasonable, you have to keep in mind that you are offering your talents and, especially to those in the Gastronomy program, your educational background.

The best news is, there are many people who are willing to help you along the way.  Professors are a great resource to help launch your career, and many people are more than happy to offer their assistance or advice.

For those who missed the panel discussion, a digital recording is available on request by emailing gastronomyatbu@gmail.com.

Catherine Smart
smartentertaining.com
Lauren Cicione
tuscanauteur.com

Carlos Olaechea was born in Peru and spent most of his life in Miami, FL before moving to Boston for the gastronomy program.  He was the dining columnist for his college newspaper and the Miami dining editor for Joonbug.com