Crispy breading and creamy gravy — just a few things you can look forward to on October 26, National Chicken Fried Steak Day. It’s a Southern cuisine classic. So, break out your deep fryer, get your gravy ladle ready and get excited to have a full belly of Southern fried goodness!
History of National Chicken Fried Steak Day
It seems like big things always happen in Texas! This includes celebrating that guilty pleasure, chicken fried steak, which is said to be the result of a mixup in a fried chicken versus steak food order in 1911. But first the chicken fried basics.
Chicken fried steak is simply described as a thin, round cut of beef which you bread and fry. Most folks serve it up with mashed potatoes and cream gravy. Seems simple enough and yet, there’s a whole story behind a dish that’s worthy of genuflection.
One of the reasons for chicken fried steak’s popularity certainly stems from the great publicity it generated. Whether you call it chicken fried steak, pan fried steak or country fried steak; an early mention of this dish allegedly appears in 1924. Writer A.L. Wyman describes the dish in the “Los Angeles Times” as ”beef steak rolled in flour, fried in a pan, and served with country gravy being poured on a hot platter and the fried steak placed over it.” Later recipes show up in publications like the “Winnipeg Free Press” in 1936 and the “Household Searchlight Recipe Book” in 1949. Hungry yet?
But it’s really in Texas where this carnivore’s delight gains popularity with three different regional versions of chicken fried steak. The East Texas version dips the meat in egg followed by flour. In Central Texas, bread crumbs replace flour and in West Texas, there’s no egg-dipping at all, according to a former Texas food critic. (It’s tough to write about this on an empty stomach!)
By 2011, Lamesa, Texas launched its “Lamesa Original Chicken-Fried Festival” in commemoration of the chicken fried steak centennial. Today, we crown it the fore-runner of the current National Chicken Fried Steak Day. Whatever…let’s eat!
National Chicken Fried Steak Day timeline
The “Lamesa Original Chicken Fried Festival,” an inaugural celebration in Lamesa, Texas, marked 100 years since the recipe was invented there.
Oklahoma made chicken fried steak — among other dishes — part of its official state meal.
The Los Angeles Times printed a recipe for chicken fried steak.
Jimmy Don Perkins, a short-order cook in Lamesa, Texas, accidentally creates chicken fried steak by mixing up a chicken order and a steak order (or so one of the stories go).
National Chicken Fried Steak Day FAQs
Why is it called chicken fried steak when it’s not made of chicken?
The name refers to how the steak is cooked since, depending on the recipe, the steak is treated similar to cooking fried chicken with a flour, bread crumbs or batter coating.
What is the difference between country fried vs. chicken fried steak?
Although the two recipes are very similar, country fried steak is cooked with a flour coating and served with a deep brown gravy while chicken fried steak is dipped in egg, fried and accompanied with a cream gravy on top and mashed potatoes on the side.
What part of the cow does the steak for chicken fried steak come from?
The beef usually comes from the round, is pounded very thin and either dipped in batter or dusted in flour, then fried.
National Chicken Fried Steak Day Activities
What better way to celebrate National Chicken Fried Steak Day then taking a trip to Texas or Oklahoma? For a Texas trip, check out the Gristmill River Restaurant, Blue Bonnet Cafe or Barbecue Inn. For Oklahoma, stop by Cheever’s Cafe, Tally’s Good Food Cafe or Kendall’s Restaurant. That’s good eatin’, y’all!
Follow the recipe
Never made chicken fried steak? Well, National Chicken Fried Steak Day is the perfect time to do so! Decide on a recipe (pan fried or deep fried?) and which gravy you think you’d prefer — and do your best to create a Southern favorite.
Have a fry-off
Whether it’s your first time making chicken fried steak or you consider yourself a pro, celebrate National Chicken Fried Steak Day by having a cook-off. Have friends and family come over — ready to fry up chicken fried steaks — and see whose recipe comes out on top
3 Great Chicken Fried Steak Debates
Pan fry vs. deep-fry
Well, as the name suggests, frying is a given, but what's the best way to do it? Some enthusiasts will argue that frying in a pan is the only way, but those who deep-fry say their way is best.
White cream vs. brown gravy
The two most common sauces to choose from for chicken fried steak is a white cream sauce or a brown gravy sauce. Die hard chicken fried steak eaters will (happily) debate to the death why theirs is the best one.
You say coleslaw, we say biscuits — but everyone says potatoes
Mashed potatoes as a side dish are a given when it comes to chicken fried steak, but many people also enjoy it with collard greens, grilled corn on the cob, fried okra, green beans, and spinach — just to name a few.
Why We Love National Chicken Fried Steak Day
It’s so freakin’ good!
The crunchiness of the chicken, the creaminess of the gravy and the butteriness of the mashed potatoes. Yes, please! Well, these are all the things you’ll get in a forkful when eating chicken fried steak. And thanks to National Chicken Fried Steak Day, you have an excuse to eat as many forkfuls as you’d like — we won’t even judge you if you lick your fingers when you’re finished!
It highlights Southern cooking
Unless you live in an area where chicken fried steak is a common cuisine, the odds of ever eating it — or enjoying it frequently — are probably slim. Thankfully, National Chicken Fried Steak Day not only gives you an excuse to indulge, but it also serves as a reminder that there are other cuisines out there — in this case, great Southern cooking — that may be outside of your usual food choices.
Since it’s protein it’s kind of healthy, right?
Okay, this may be a bit of a stretch, but it’s also kind of true. Sure, fried anything may not be the most healthy thing in the world, (everything in moderation, right?) but at least you know you’re getting some protein on October 26. Plus, National Chicken Fried Steak Day only comes once a year and if this is the one day where you splurge on a fried food then, it’s worth it.
National Chicken Fried Steak Day dates