I had jury duty recently, and during the lunch break, the only real food choice was this hole-in-the-wall place that specialized in southern food. I don’t think The South has ever really demonstrated any special culinary excellence, so I'm not sure why a restaurant would specialize in “southern food” – it’s the equivalent of specializing in cooking shit. If you want to specialize in being “gracious,” “racist,” or “slow,” then I recommend copying The South, but not for food. Anyway, as you expect, the restaurant had terrible food choices, so I steered clear of things like grits and pieces of pig that you wouldn't eat unless you were in Lord of the Flies... and I went with the safest pick – the chicken. Specifically, the chicken fried steak.
Now, if you are like me and didn't already know, “chicken fried steak” isn't chicken at all – it’s steak, as in red meat. When I cut into my “chicken” at the restaurant and discovered that it was actually steak, I was shocked and pissed off. I think it’s total bullshit that they call this thing “chicken fried steak”. Why the hell is “chicken” in the name?? “Chicken” is a noun and a protein, and when I order something with “chicken” in the name, I expect to actually get chicken. It’s so misleading. I mean, what the fuck?
I know, I know... the word “steak” is in the name, too. But, in fairness, that word comes at the end, and it isn't the headliner of the dish. I was also thinking that maybe the name referred to the type of chicken – that the chicken was cut into a steak-like pieces (or fillet) and didn't have bones. Plus, who knows what they mean in The South anyway?... it was like ordering off a foreign menu with all the weird stuff they had.
People have since informed me that it is called “chicken fried steak” because it is steak that is fried in the same manner as fried chicken. Obviously, that is the intent of the idiot who fraudulently named this piece-of-shit dish, but there are two problems with that explanation. First of all, it is grammatically incorrect. If you have compound words in front of a noun, then you are supposed to hyphenate them. So, the proper way to write the name of the dish is “chicken-fried steak”. OK, now THAT I understand... chicken-fried is the compound descriptor of the noun, steak. The proper way to read that name is that it is a steak that has been fried in a chicken style. As part of my lawsuit, I am going to require that all menus be changed to use the hyphenated phrase “chicken-fried steak.” The fact that the name is already grammatically incorrect is evidence that whoever invented this dish isn't necessarily coming up with the best ideas out there.
The second problem with the explaination for the name is that I don’t think that chicken has a special frying style that is exclusively its own, does it? Fried chicken is fried in batter – so what's the big deal? When we order other fried foods, we’re never disappointed with how it is fried, are we? Did you ever get served something and think, “Goddamnit, I wish this was chicken-fried and not just normal-fried”? We don’t call fried chicken “chicken-fried chicken,” do we? No, we just call it fried chicken. So why can’t we just call it fried steak, too? Why complicate and confuse the matter?
I have heard that sometimes this dish is called “country fried steak” (again, there should be a hyphen), but I am SO fine with that name. There is no confusion with a name like “country fried steak.” You might not know what “country fried” means exactly, but you have some idea, and you certainly don’t expect to order it and get a big slab of “country” on your plate, do you? In the name “country fried steak,” there is only one food noun, so you can’t go wrong, right?!
Maybe I am an idiot. Maybe everyone already knows that chicken fried steak is steak and has nothing to do with chicken. But I feel misled and cheated, and I think it’s wrong to name something “chicken fried steak” when all it really is, is a fried steak.
On top of all this, it fucking sucks, too. It’s this super-thin slice of red meat that is pounded down and fried with too much breading. The color of the meat is gray, and it’s a crap-quality cut, so that it’s tough and fatty. And then they pour this hideous white gravy on top of it. White gravy?? Who ever heard of such a thing? Gravy is brown (possibly red, if you are Italian). We all just had Thanksgiving, and how many of you out there poured a white “gravy” on your turkey? None of you. So how come chicken fried steak suddenly has this white gravy invention?? That is another rip-off associated with the dish. And by the way, white/cream sauces do no pair well with red meat. Do you know what white sauces DO pair well with?... fish... and CHICKEN! Someone please put an end to this fraudulent, shitty, protein-confused meal.