Ever since that deep fryer walked into this house, I’ve wanted to make Chicken-Fried Steak.

Chicken-Fried Steak and I have a long history.  My mom used to make a variation, but I think she made a brown gravy.  And I definitely had it in Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club.  Frozen, pre-portioned steaks, deep-fried to a shoe-leather consistency and then held on a steam table.  With a white paste called country gravy.  We lost that war.  In no small part due to the food, I’m sure.

But the chicken-fried steaks I remember the best were at Lyon’s in Daly City – with my parents.

Back in the day, Victor and I had dinner with my parents probably once a week.  We’d have them over to the house for a quick meal on any given day of the week.  They were always the perfect guests – 90 minutes tops from walking in the door to dinner to saying good-bye.  They liked to take us out, and the restaurant of choice was always Lyon’s.  Actually, it was often the default restaurant after the first choice – Joe’s of Westlake.  My father was of the opinion that there was no reason on earth that he should have to call a restaurant and make a reservation.  He would show up and expect to be seated.  Having worked in the business for more years than I care to count, I’d gently explain that every person of his age and generation within a 25-mile radius was descending upon Joe’s at the exact same time.  A little advance notice wouldn’t hurt.

Alas, he chose not to listen to his Number Two Son.  When we were inevitably informed that it would be a 40 minute wait, we were back in the cars and up the road to Lyon’s.  No wait.

We had grown up with Lyons.  I knew the menu backwards and forwards.  And 9 times out of 10, I would order the Chicken-Fried Steak.  Looking back, I don’t remember it as being all that overly-delicious.  It was good, but I think ordering it became more of a tradition than a desire.  Pop would ask if I was having the Chicken-Fried Steak and I’d say Yeah.  Once in a while I’d throw a curve-ball and order a burger or a French Dip, but the Chicken-Fried Steak was my mainstay.

The secret to a good restaurant-style Chicken-Fried Steak is that they’re deep-fried, not pan-fried.  It makes all the difference.  I’ve pan-fried them in the past but they’re just not the same.  So tonight, the deep-fryer came out.

Chicken-Fried Steak with Sausage Gravy

  • tenderized steaks
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Season flour with salt, pepper, onion, and garlic powders.  Dredge steaks in seasoned flour, milk, back into flour, into the egg, and back into the flour.  Let set for about 30 minutes.

Deep-fry and smother in:

Sausage Gravy

  • 4 oz bulk sausage (I used a sausage seasoned with sage and garlic)
  • 2 tbsp flour (from flouring steaks)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Brown sausage in skillet.  Add flour and mix well.  Cook slightly.  Add milk and cook until thickening.  Add heavy cream and cook until thick and creamy.

It was everything I wanted it to be – and more.  And just like at Lyon’s, it was more than I could eat.  Cybil had her share and there’s lunch tomorrow.

And OMG this is so not good for you!  Even in small doses this is a heart attack waiting to happen.

So I have had my Chicken-Fried Steak fix.  Lyon’s is gone and so are Mom and Pop.  This is one meal that will serve me better as memories.  Really fun, very special memories.