The Origins of a Texas Favorite
The origins of chicken-fried steak are shouded in mystery thicker than the gravy that goes with it. The earliest reference this writer could find using that exact term is in a 1928 article on obesity in a railway employees bulletin. Obviously, the dish was being enjoyed long before that.
Most culinary historians trace the origin of our plate-eclipsing marvel to the Germans who came to Texas in the nineteenth century and brought with them recipes for Wiener Schnitzel. This dish consists of pounded veal coated with breadcrumbs and fried. (It has nothing to do with the Wienerschnitzel hotdog joints.)
Recipes for what we would all recognize as chicken fried steak were included in many southern cookbooks after the Civil War.
If you think about it, the chicken fried steak was almost inevitable in Texas. Even the best of cuts from those old longhorns required a really good set of teeth to enjoy. What was a cook to do with the tougher cuts? Pounding the hell out of it is a very Texan thing to do.
There are regional variations, even within Texas. The East Texas version is dipped in egg and then flour, similar to the way fried chicken is prepared. Central Texas uses bread crumbs rather than flour, showing its Weiner Schnitzel roots. Out West there is a version made without dipping the meat in egg, which likely had its origin which chuck wagon cooks on cattle drives.
Just who coined the term, ‘chicken fried’ remains a mystery…for now.
Quote of the Week
“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.” - John Steinbeck
Where was the the Stars and Stripes first flown over Texas? Answer is at the bottom of this page.
News from Copano Bay Press
Our latest limited edition book, Texas by Ferdinand Roemer is going fast. As of this writing only 96 copies of the 254 copy edition remain (SOLD OUT). This may be our first limited edition to sell out before the official ship date.
A little about the book:
- Contains the first geological survey of Texas
- Is also a captivating travel narrative of the Republic era
- Contains folding map…the first geological map of Texas
- Limited to only 254 copies…one for each county in Texas
- The jacket is personalized with your name or the name of your recipient.
On July 25, 1845 a sidewheel steamer, the USS Alabama, anchored off Aransas Pass. Lt. Chandler of the Third Infantry waded ashore and planted Old Glory in a sand dune on San Jose island. The island was used as a temporary camp for General Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation before moving to the staging area in Corpus Christi in preparation for the war with Mexico that everyone knew was coming. Among the soldiers encamped on San Jose was a young West Pointer who would later make a name for himself - Ulysses S. Grant.