• Paul

Thank God I’m a country boy Country Style Steak

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Cube steak country style steak with gravy and mashed potatoes

Country style steak is definitely one of those dishes that I have some quite fond memories of and an emotional attachment to. You see, my mother, despite always being able to put a meal on the table, is one of the people that generally avoided salt, pepper, and fat when preparing dishes. (You can read about my opinions on the subject here.) However, her country style steak was always something to look forward to.

After I had gotten out of college and started my career in software, I really started to increase my reps in the kitchen. Back then, I was mostly making bachelor style thrown together and doctored up quick, simple, and inexpensive meals. Hot rotisserie chickens from the grocery store were my friend. I’m sure that will turn into a series of posts down the road. But the one thing that I always yearned for, and quite frankly still do, is a tasty home cooked meal that I don’t have to make for myself.

One morning during one of my Mother’s visits in this early career phase of my life, she offered to take me out to a nice dinner after I got home from work. I told her straight up that all I really wanted was to come home to a hot dinner in my own home that I didn’t have to cook myself. Mom came through with some of her country style steak and it damn near made me shed manly little Viking tears.

Hot and humble, not haute

The base of country style steak is cube steak. It’s typically top sirloin, a tough and relatively inexpensive cut of meat that has been mechanically tenderized or beaten with a meat mallet until the tough connective tissue demons have been exorcised from it. Expensive cuts of meat will typically have much lower levels of tolerance for mistakes; It’s not hard to overcook that gorgeous filet that you drool over in the case at the butcher. Utilizing the less expensive cuts typically requires a little more time, but generally only get better the less you pay attention to them while they’re cooking.

If you figure out the basic techniques involved in this dish, you can apply them to other proteins to make an entire universe of delicious homestyle meals:

1) Sear meat in pan

2) Use fond (the little crispy bits left in the pan after searing something) to make gravy

3) Finish in the oven until tender and super delicious

Gentlemen (or ladies), start your skillets

6 cube steaks

½ cup flour

1-2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 cup neutral oil (peanut, canola, etc., NOT olive oil)

Grab your 12” cast iron skillet and lid! If you’re scared of cookware that requires a little extra love, but will last a few lifetimes, you could also use a dutch oven or deep stainless saucepan.

First we need to dredge the cube steak. For the uninitiated, this is a fancy way of saying we’re going to cover them with seasoned flour. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper into a large bowl and coat each piece of cube steak. You want a full and even coating. Maybe even massage some of the flour into all the nooks and crannies. But make sure you shake off the excess before letting rest on a sheet tray or plate for 10-15 minutes.

While your meat is resting, put the oil in the skillet and heat over medium high heat. Once a pinch of flour sizzles away when sprinkled in the oil, you’re ready to start pan frying. For those interested in precision, you probably want the oil around 350 degrees (the universal cooking temp).

Cube steak frying in a pan

Depending on the size of the steaks, you’ll need to pan fry your meat in 2-3 batches. You don’t want to overcrowd your pan and the oil shouldn’t completely cover the steaks. This is a pan fry, not a deep fry. Also, you aren’t necessarily trying to cook the meat all the way through. We’ll do that later in the oven. The rule of thumb that I use is let it sizzle in the oil undisturbed until you see red juices running out of the top of the steaks.

This should give you a nice golden brown color. Flip the steaks until you get the same color on the other side and then remove and let rest on a sheet tray or plate while their friends take a dip in the pool.

Good gravy…

2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp flour

2 cups beef stock

1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet or browning sauce

½ cup water (optional)

1 tablespoon salt