Last night I made chicken fried steak for dinner. And it was gooooood. The Golfer told me so 452 times. He even said it was better than Grandy’s.
Remember Grandy’s? That fast food restaurant that served home cooking? In college the Golfer would go there and order chicken fried steak (we just call it “chicken fry”) and fried okra. So being the forever good and loving wife, I’ve tried multiple times throughout our marriage to make it for him only to fail miserably each and every time.
If you’ve ever tried to fry something, something breaded, then you know how important a cast iron skillet is to the equation. It makes all the difference in the world. I know that of which I speak.
When I first started cooking, I tried and tried to make my Gan Gan’s fried okra and potatoes. I would call her on the phone. She would tell me again exactly what to do. I would totally follow her advice and it never worked. It didn’t taste like hers. It was okay, but my Gan’s Gan’s fried okra and potatoes was better than okay. It was my most favorite thing. My most favorite thing that she made for me every time I went over to her house.
After she passed away, I remember being with my mom at my Gan Gan’s house. My mom and my aunt were going through my grandmother’s things, separating treasures out equally for me and my cousins. I remember my mom holding up one of my Gan Gan’s cast iron skillets.
“Do you want one of these?” my mom asked me.
I looked at the skillet. What I saw was a dirty, greasy cooking utensil. What it actually was was the magic ingredient for her fried okra and potatoes. But instead of grabbing it and hugging it to my chest I replied, “No. I don’t need it.”
What I saw as dirty and greasy was actually seasoned perfection. It was years of cooking and love and fried deliciousness that I passed up without a second thought. Instead, I decided to go out and buy my own because “a new, clean skillet will be better.” And it worked. It was fine. But just fine.
Then we moved to California. I remember packing up the skillet and thinking, “Man, this makes this box heavy!” so I decided to give my skillet a box all of it’s own. I’m not sure what happened, but my skillet never made it west. It didn’t make it into storage either. The only thing I can figure out is that it fell off the truck in New Mexico somewhere. Hopefully Wile E. Coyote is getting some good use out of it.
Fast forward 4 years later. I had survived living in California without a cast iron skillet, but then I bought The Pioneer Woman Cooks. And after looking at page after delicious page worth of fried goodness, I said these words to the Golfer.
“Why don’t I make chicken fry for dinner tomorrow?”
He immediately smiled, but then looked at me sceptically. See, I have done this to him before. Gotten his mouth all ready for some chicken fry only to disappoint him miserably.
I headed to the grocery store and had the butcher make me some cubed steak. Then on to Williams-Sonoma for a skillet (because if you’re going to do it, do it right.) Then I headed home.
Periodically the Golfer wandered into the kitchen to check on me. “How’s it goin’?” he asked right as I was flipping my first steak in the skillet. And that’s when he saw it. Fried…golden…perfection.
And it was good.
Better than Grandy’s.
Then this morning, the Golfer called to say hi. “Just wanted to check-in. That chicken fry sure was good last night.”
12 hours later and he’s still talking about it. I think it’s safe to assume that he’ll never leave me.
You know what he wants for dinner tonight? Leftover chicken fry. Whoever said, “The way to a man’s heart is through his belly” wasn’t lyin’.