Chicken Fried Steak, there are dozens of versions and I'll just have to try them all until I can relive that one night in small town USA.
This version is from Food Network
Many moons ago I had a job that required me to travel to the USA.
Back in the day when I was on top of the world, I just had my cell phone installed in my car, it was the size of carry on luggage but man was I cool!
I was young with a fantastic job, company credit card, cell phone and a brief case. I was also a Canadian girl that had never flown before and was travelling alone for the fiirst time ever. The phone really has nothing to do with this story except for the fact that every time I think back to that time in my life I remember the phone and the Chicken Fried Steak...
or what it all really meant to me.
This version from Food Wishes
I am flying on a plane to small town USA, I can't even remember the name of the place I landed on that dark chilly night. An airport taxi took me to my hotel... who knows where, I don't know why all this is so vague. I remember going up to my room, plopping down on my bed feeling hunger pains, I couldn't even remember eating that day, I was just too excited for my first plane ride. I couldn't find a menu for room service so I called the front desk, there was only a small cafe in the hotel and they had closed for the evening, I was directed to the diner next door.
Now remember, I had just flown for the first time, I couldn't muster up the courage to go sit in a small town diner all alone. I walked over asked if they did take out. The waitress... in my mind she was wearing a light blue coloured uniform dress, white shoes, hair in a bun, apron and a pencil behind her ear. I wish her name was Alice, Madge or Flo but I probably want this memory because that's that Norman Rockwell deplicted..
I can't remember what I ordered but for some reason she told me I have to get the Chicken Fried Steak and apple pie for dessert. I passed on both, but it wasn't a choice. What was Chicken Fried Steak? "oh Darlin' you're gonna love it" she said all the while chomping on her gum. Never heard of it, it was the 80's, no computeres, no internet, no Pinterest, no blogs, no websites. She was sweet but convincing. I remember her looking like Flo but I must admit, I have a vivid imagination.
Fine, Chicken Fried whatever and pie... I was tired.
This version is from Brown eyed Baker.
I took my brown bag of goodies, thanked everyone (yup all 3 people
in the diner talked to me while I waited for my food) snuggled it close to keep me warm while a crossed the dark windy parking lot to the hotel.
Up in my room I got in my comfies, hopped on the bed and started to unpack the brown bag, it sure smelled good -
I remember that aroma clearly - MMm.
I pulled out the large styrofoam container first, I swear beams of light came out with the steam, They had cut the meat in half just to be able to fit it in the container. On top of half the meat was chunky mashed potatoes and a few green beans, a token vegetable, there for the colour.
It was all covered in a creamy, dreamy peppered gravy. The perfect amount of gravy with a small container of extra on the side.
This version from Freeing my Martha
I started out like a lady, cutting into my meal with a plastic knife, a small bite into my mouth .......
Crunchy on the outside, steaming hot and juicy on the inside covered with creamy gravy imported directly from the heavenly kicthens in the sky.
Seriously... it was divine!
I picked up the entire piece of Chicken Fried Steak, made sure it was topped with the right amount of gravy and a mouthful of mashed potatoes.
Into the hatch, one bite at a time until it was gone, the meat, the potatoes and the extra container of gravy . I wiped my hands, my face and looked down on the green beans and closed up the container. Someone had drawn a happy face on the styrofoam cover. I smiled even more.
I'm sure I scarfed down the slice of pie too, but I don't remember, the
only thing I remember about that entire trip was the Chicken Fried Steak.
I've never had it since, I'm afraid.
Every once in awhile I'll crave it but I'm nervous.
Will it ever live up to my first and only Chicken Fried Steak?
This version from Southern Living
Maybe I'll try a recipe every 2 weeks or so until I find the perfect version
or maybe I'll just let the memories of the young district manager,
with a briefcase, cell phone and company credit card remain the
perfect memory in my mind.
P.S. I got an upgrade on my phone about a year later, this version was much more portable.