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Chicken fry country


Our region is known for tornadoes, religion and, best of all, fried food.

Greg Elwell September 26th, 2012

Chicken can be pretty boring. Which is why we fry it.

Chicken fry at Classen Grill
Credit: Mark Hancock

But steak? Steak is already great.

Juicy, tender, beefy. And we still fry it. Because frying things makes them awesome.

If you’re looking for a great chicken-fried steak in Oklahoma City, you won’t have to look too far. They’re everywhere, they’re delicious and they’re probably covered in gravy.

“Some people try to get fancy, but there’s no reason to do that,” said Keith Paul, owner of Cheever’s Cafe, 2409 N. Hudson. “We use a cube steak made from top sirloin. It’s pretty much my grandma’s recipe.”

After finding the right cut of beef, the secret is in the breading, he said. Seasoning the flour gives it a tremendous boost and making sure the ratio is right — about 50-50 breading to meat — makes for a very satisfying bite.

On top, they divert from grandma’s recipe and go with a jalapeño gravy.

“I wasn’t sure about that combination when we first started making it 13 years ago, but I am now.”

Another old-school CFS can be found at Jamil’s, 4910 N. Lincoln Blvd. Owner Greg Gawey starts with a 10-ounce round steak for his version.

“My secret is peanut oil. Some people use it for fried chicken,” he said; he finds it makes for a great chicken-fried steak as well.

Jamil’s also makes its own seasoning blend and pan gravy.

“Some people like it right on top and some ask for it on the side,” Gawey said. “And then we have a few gentlemen who want double gravy and jalapeño bacon on top.”

At Classen Grill, 5124 N. Classen Blvd., head chef Junior Luna said freshness is the key to its best-selling chicken-fried steak.

“They’re all made to order,” he said. Classen Grill’s CFS is double-breaded by hand, using flour and buttermilk on top of freshly cut cube steaks.

With the restaurant’s own blend of spices, the steaks have a thick, craggy crust that holds a lot of pepper gravy. Breakfast steaks sell plenty, but the real treat is getting it inside a sandwich, Luna said.

“The sandwiches are really big,” he said. “When we bring them out, with the steak hanging over the bun, you should see the look on people’s faces.”

At the Chuck House, 4430 N.W. 10th, “Home of the Best Chicken Fry in the Universe,” chicken-fried steak and chicken-fried chicken account for a whopping 70 percent of the business. The key, co-owner Jay Thurber said, is consistency.

“We make and test a couple of chicken-fried steaks every day, just to make sure the product we’re putting out there tastes the way we want it to taste,” he said. “Our gravy, we used to tweak the recipe a little bit, but we’ve got the right blend of spices to complement the seasoning in the chicken fry now, so we don’t mess with it.”

Thurber said his chicken fry stands apart because it’s crispier than others. The Chuck House, too, has a proprietary seasoning blend.

“I’m sure everybody has their own secret spices and I bet we’re all probably using about the same thing,” he said.

Whatever they’re doing works. The Chuck House, started by Thurber’s father, has been in business nearly 33 years. Loyal customers come in every week; some come in almost seven days a week.

Whether you’re eating CFS once a day or once a year, you can’t beat the selection in Oklahoma City with a stick — even if you fried the stick.

 
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