Let me explain the history of this very special sandwich a bit before we get into the recipe. Long ago….I was in high school. At this point in time, we had no cell phones (early 90’s), so kids were always outside playing, P.E. was an everyday class, getting to class on time at my school was exercise in itself, so our school lunches were AMAZING! We had 4 cafeterias at my school, that should give you an idea of how big it was, and 3 different lunch periods as well as off campus lunch (unfortunately I always had the last lunch). When I was attending high school, only 3 were in commission. All three basically served something a little different from the other. One cafeteria in particular always served the best French bread pizza that I have ever had in my life (I’ll post that recipe some day soon). So, obviously when the bell rang for my lunch period, my best friend and I would truck it to my locker, throw our books in and RUN to my favorite cafeteria. As luck would have it, there was always a long line through the doors leading down the sidewalk. It was inevitable that by the time we made it to the servers, we were forced to watch that last piece of pizza placed on someone else’s tray. At that point you had 2 options, plain cheese, fries and gravy, or chicken fried steak all the way which was a chicken fried steak sandwich with cheese, fries and gravy on top. Usually I chose the plain cheese, fries and gravy, but on the days that a friend and I were going to be sharing a lunch, I would get the chicken fried steak all the way. You would generally eat these things with a fork and they were so good! So much so that I put them on the menu when I was a chef at a local tavern and it was a total success. Here is my version of that nostalgic school lunch that everyone loved ever so much.
4 cube steaks
2 1/2 c unbleached AP flour (all purpose)
1 c milk
1 large egg
salt and pepper
oil for frying
4 c plain unseasoned fries
2-0.87 oz packs instant turkey gravy
2-0.87 oz packs instant pork gravy
2 c shredded cheese, (unseasoned Mexican blend or colby-jack works great)
4 plain hamburger buns
Set your deep fryer for 338 degrees
Prepare the gravy according to the package directions. It should give you roughly 4 cups of gravy. I use a lot for this dish, but if you just want to utilize the gravy as an accent, 1 of each packet should work fine. Once the gravy is made, you can set it at a low temp to keep it warm.
If you have to fry the steaks and fries in different batches, prepare a sheet pan with a baking rack and set your oven to 250 degrees to keep the steaks warm while you cook the fries. Set your steaks out on a plate or cutting board. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Prepare two bowls by filling one with flour salt and pepper, and one with the egg and milk. Make sure to whisk the egg up a bit. Dredge each steak through the flour, milk, and flour again. Make sure to repeat this process with all four steaks. The double dredge will give you a thicker crust. Depending on the size of your deep fryer, fry the steaks for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the baking rack once done. When you have fried all of your steaks, transfer the sheet pan to the oven and start the fries. Cook according to package directions. I cook them a little longer and a bit harder (5-7 minutes) because I like a crispy fry when I’m cooking them at home.Shake off excess grease and transfer to a steel bowl. Toss with a little salt.
To prepare these little gems, simply place 1 chicken fried steak on the bottom bun, top with 1 c of fries, then 1/2 c of cheese and top it off with a good amount of gravy. Add the top bun and you are ready to dive in!