Posts Tagged ‘Chicken Fried Steak’
A frozen entree, with mash potatoes and cream gravy. Boston Market, like many companies, does not actually produce this product, but licenses their name to Bellisio Foods, a company I know a bit about.
Both companies were started on a shoestring in Northern Minnesota, by local son of an immigrant entrepreneur, Jeno Paulucci. He built both companies to attain tens of millions in annual revenue, and sold them off, Chun King first, to RJ Reynolds, followed by Jeno’s, which was spun to General Mills to combine with their own “Totino’s” brand.
Most of these foods were produced in my hometown of Duluth, MN, until Jeno had a hissy fit, threatened to move production out of state, and ultimately did – to Ohio. Jeno could be incredibly generous and civic minded, and meaner than moose piss other times.
Years later, he starts a new frozen food company, “Michelina’s,” also based in Duluth (including some production) which he builds up by acquiring other brands in the segment. Jeno was successful in building another monster company, with production facilities around the country, and distribution around the world.
A number of qualified buyers approached him during the last part of his life, but he rebuffed them all, asking far more than the company was worth. Finally, literally on his deathbed, a transaction was negotiated, but for less than the company was worth. Fine tuning the operations, the principles flipped the company a few years later to a Thai conglomerate, and made a bundle.
So now you know where this product comes from – intellectually. Physically, it is produced in a factory in Jackson, OH, about a hundred miles east of Cincinnati.
“TV dinners” were introduced by the Swanson Company in 1953-1954. Swanson was started in 1899 and is stilled around, owned by Pinnacle Foods (formerly Vlasic). The dinners came in tinfoil trays, with separate compartments for entrees, vegetables, and starches. They were heated in a conventional oven – from frozen – for about an hour. They weren’t very tasty.
Today, they are microwave friendly, of course, packaged in plastic, a few minutes from frozen to ‘edible’ tho I still use a conventional oven if the directions are on the box as an option. Which is what I did today, about 45 minutes at 350, with a ‘potato stir’ in the middle.
And here’s what I say about every single “heat and eat” fried thing I try. After sixty years, don’t you think they could have figured out the science to make crispy things crispy? There are few experiences worse than biting into something you expect to be crispy/crunchy, and having it have practially zero texture.
I like chicken fried steak for breakfast, so I prepped it that way, added eggs, toast. Usually mashed potatoes aren’t a breakfast dish, are they? But that’s how this meal is packaged. How were the potatoes? Better than fast food, not as good as those heat and eat tubs they sell nowadays.
Tactile experience aside, the flavor of the meat was OK. As was the gravy, but the plate (pictured) becomes one big mess, not at all (of course) like the corporate marketing image. It might help to put the gravy in a separate ramekin. Just sayin’.
They’re all about the same. At restaurants, you hit the jackpot when you find a cook that makes his own. Would I buy this again? Nah. Just did for the novelty, and for the sake of YOU. LOL.
Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review
When I was growing up, it was etched in stone that the family had a big Saturday breakfast together; often my dad cooked the elaborate set-up, which might have been steak and eggs, pancakes or waffles, fruit turnovers, sausage or bacon.
It got so that friends of me and my siblings wanted to do sleepovers on Friday nites just for the morning repast. Kids were placed in charge of beating batter, folding and stuffing turnovers, and most certainly, setting, clearing and washing.
I carried this on, when I had families. It was flexible tho, depending on people’s schedules, and would be either Saturday or Sunday. It is reportedly a fond memory of my daughters.
Even now, on my own, I continue the practice, but again, it’s not locked into a day.
Today I went with trying to perfect my chicken fried steak recipe, along with eggs and a home version of poutine.
For the steak, I used the flour/eggdip/crumb method, fried until the edges start to look a bit crispy – doesn’t take long!
My crumb mixture today was a combo of panko and crushed pretzels. I’ve tried all sorts of other combos – potato chips, saltines, corn chips. Most are probably too salty for most people.
For today’s poutine, I went with tator tots, brown gravy and feta. It was over the top satisfactory.
A couple poached eggs, and an everthing bagel. Ok, the bagel was a goof-up, cause I baked bread yesterday which I intended to use, and forgot I had put it in the icebox.
It was a good breakfast, large enough for two diners. Tried to share with the cat, but he would have nothing to do with it.
Chicken Fried Steak Recipe
Always been curious about this place, which advertises heavily along the interstate. They also have another Missouri location and one in Foley, Alabama. They are known for “throwed rolls” – servers walk around the room with tins full of piping hot popovers, diners raise their hands, and a roll is pitched to them. (Note of caution, the servers are wearing GLOVES, cause the damned things are HOT).
This “country themed menu” restaurant also includes “pass arounds” with each meal; servers walk through the rooms with buckets/pans of fried okra, sorghum, black eyed peas, apple butter, fried potatos, and mac and tomatos. The night I was there, despite sitting right near the kitchen door, the “pass arounds” were seemingly in short supply. While the sorghum girl frequently passed, potato guy and okra person were nowhere to be seen for the entire meal.
Entrees (like catfish, fried chicken, meatloaf, pork chops and the like) come accompanied by your choice of two or three sides from an extensive list (beans, taters, slaw, cornbread, tater salad, greens, veggies and the like).
I went with chicken fried steak, which came with mashed potatoes, gravy, and I chose greens and white beans for my sides. Surprisingly, this is one of the better chicken fried steaks I have had, and if you are a regular reader, you know I have tried them in a lot of different places.
Food is delivered very quickly, seeming to indicate there is some pre-cooking done, as this is a massive place, but it didn’t seem to affect the quality or taste.
The only annoying thing (for me) is the constant honky tonk piano music.
I’ve written a whole lot about the products from Cincinnati-based Advance Pierre, the premiere “heat and eat” and “gas station sandwich” maker in the U.S. Often, besides in vending and C-stores, you’ll find their frozen products at dollar stores.
You know how much I love chicken fried steak? I’ve tried it all over the country, both from restaurants and the heat and eat varieties.
This product was made in the plant pictured below, and is comprised of beef, mechanically separated turkey, and, not kidding, about 150 other ingredients. Nuke of 90 seconds, stir “gravy,” nuke another 30, let sit for 30, and then “enjoy.”
Now ordinarily, I’d put this product in the category of “I tried so you don’t have to.” But I didn’t really “try” it. I had one bite and it was so awful, I couldn’t go on.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Circle A Ranch Country Fried Beef
Back in the Chicago burbs to see a client, usually disagreeable in January (the weather, not the client), but it’s 45 today. I wanted breakfast and headed for one of my usual haunts, the Palatine Inn, but drove by Red Apple Pancakes and decided to give that a whirl. Glad I did.
Deceptively small from the outside, the parking lot was full to overflowing, but there were still tables available. Paulo showed me to one and brought coffee. The breakfast menu is extensive and there is a separate sheet of specials. The restaurant also serves lunch and closes up shop for the day at 3 PM.
There are quite a few people in my universe who would insist you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but to prove them wrong, I DID NOT order chicken fried steak and eggs (which I have written a lot about), I ordered chicken fried chicken and eggs, so there, pffffffft!
Everything on the plate was done perfectly, and despite the crowd, I noticed food was coming out of the kitchen quickly. The ‘steak’ was crispy, the gravy creamy, the taters extra crispy as I ordered, as were the eggs, and the rye toast done perfectly. Add to the plus column a bowl of butter on the table, quite a Chicago area thing it seems, and I am so happy it is!
There is another Red Apple Pancakes a couple of suburbs over, in Carol Stream, IL, no idea if there is a connection or not.
Was heading from Chicago to Madison, so I thought I’d stop en route and get a tasty breakfast on the back roads, and my back road of choice to Madison is US 14, so I hit Andy’s Family Restaurant in Crystal Lake, IL.
Over ordered, not a surprise, went with the Chicken Fried Steak and eggs, the place was jammed, but service was prompt and friendly, they have had lots of practice, this place has been around for years.
Played “butter Jenga” while I was waiting, scarfed the meal and hit the road. Great place.
Andys Family Restaurant Review
Hard to believe I would find myself in this little burg twice in a lifetime, let alone twice in a month. But here I am, it’s Father’s Day, I deserve a nice breakfast out in the traditional Father’s Day tradition!
Sammy’s Restaurant and Bar is open for all meal services, and offers pretty standard “diner” fare, along with daily and nightly specials. There is a set lunch special menu, and the nightly specials are consistent from week to week, with the usual (for the area) fish fry on Friday’s.
Sammy’s doesn’t wait for the dinner hour for their fish fry, however, they start serving it up for the lunch crowed.
I went with Sammy’s variation of “Country Steak” and eggs, which in this case, did not include batter, fried beef, but rather a chopped steak patty with country gravy, two eggs, hash browns, and toast. I went with marble rye on the latter.
The beef patty is pretty ample, perhaps a half-pound pre-cooked weight, a food service type burger (meaning not hand-formed from fresh ground beef), and the gravy was good.
I was pretty happy with the service and food, and like so many small town places in the Upper Midwest, prices make the meals a really good value.
You gotta love it when a date’s idea of a big nite is going to IHOP. Well, at least I do. Pretty tired of high-maintenance relationships, on any level. Add to the glamour of IHOP that your date brings a “two-fer” coupon, and you’re sitting pretty.
She went with the chicken Caesar, wondering if the Romans had croutons. (Cute!). (I didn’t have the heart to tell her the Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana, and had nothing to do with Italy).
Feeling all Texan-like, I went with Country Fried Steak, mashed taters and gravy, and steamed broccoli. (WTF? How did that get on my plate?!).
The food was – well, it is what it is. At $17 for dinner for two, and two beverages (with the coupon), that’s a cheap nite out.
IHOP was started in Toluca Lake, CA (a ‘burb’ of L.A.), in the 50s, and just down the street from the original Bob’s Big Boy. Today there are thousands of these pancake outlets around the globe, and in the last couple years, the parent company also acquired Applebee’s, and changed their corporate name to Dine Equity.
IHOP’s menu is online.
The “Bird Dog” name doesn’t come from any of the conventional or urban slang definitions of that phrase, but rather, one would imagine, as an homage to the cafe’s signature dish moniker, a hot dog prepared in the way occasionally people are used to hearing a different cut of meat prepared in some parts of the country.
The “Bird Dog”, is a “chicken-fried” hot dog, smothered in a rich, creamy sausage-laden gravy. It’s hard (for me) to imagine a more creative mash-up of some of my favorite foods.
The joint offers a wide variety of hot dog, burger, and sausage preparations, which increases in size with the addition of unique one-offs as daily specials.
The quality and care in prep shows throughout.
I’d been meaning to get to Bird Dog for some time, and had the opportunity when I was in their part of town around lunch time the other day.
I wanted to try a variety of things, including the signature dish, a side of chili cheese fries, and, having relocated to Portland from New Orleans, I was intrigued that they had a “muffaletta” dog, a tribute to the signature classic sandwich of New Orleans.
As I was already deep into committing to one hot dog with the Bird Dog selection, I asked that they prepare a plain burger patty with the olive tapenade from a muffaletta and a slice of provolone; they happily agreed to my non-menu request.
The Bird Dog is an ample pork hot dog, immersed in a corn-meal and other flour batter, and deep fried, to produce a crispy coating; placed on an oversized, ample bun, with a generous topping of pork sausage gravy, all on its own, it’s a very satisfying and filling meal. The ‘tubular nutritional delivery vehicle’ is a tasty frank, mild in seasoning, and the sausage gravy is some of the best I’ve had in Portland, creamy, no hint of a floury taste, with nice chunks of sausage throughout.
The burger patty was massive, hovering between 1/3 and 1/2 pound, I would imagine, obviously hand-formed, and the olive salad I asked for, spot on reminiscent of the New Orleans recipe. A bakery-soft, but sturdy, toasted bun cradled the patty.
My side of chili cheese fries was notable, also one of my clear favorites in Portland. A “hot dog” style chili, very meaty, good flavor, no beans, burying a mound of crispy shoe strings.
Dining in, you have access to a wide selection of toppings you can add yourself, from a pickled vegetable bar to a host of mustards and sauces. Bird Dog’s website says all of the side dishes are made in house, and I imagine the toppings are as well.
This is a place, that if it was closer to my work, I’d hit all to frequently. I’d like to try a number of their house made sausages, and might opt for the sausage sampler plate in the future.
Or a chicken fried burger? Mac n Cheese dog? Cuban? They also offer their take on the Sonoran Dog, a regional favorite from the Southwest.
Too many choices of too many good things.
Perfect for Burgerdogboy, and you.
Bird Dog is snuggled amidst a couple of long time hot dog competitors on East Hawthorne, so now you have a choice of the old timey guys that wrest on their laurels and rep, or some bright, innovative, quality cuisine that dazzles.
I say the choice is obvious.
Founded in 1977 in California, Claim Jumper has grown to 37 locations, mostly in the Western US. With a decor resembling a rustic hunting lodge, and a menu that offers virtually “something for everyone”, the chain maintains its popularity because of quality food, large portions, and friendly, prompt service.
The seating capacity at the outlet we visited was 550, according to the occupancy sign at the door, and since we had to wait (very briefly) for a table, one would guess the joint was full up.
Service was prompt, regardless. We started with the pretzel stick appetizer (choice of butter and salt coating, or parmesan / garlic), which comes with your choice of a cheese or mustard dipping sauce. These aren’t your standard pretzel bits, but rather a half dozen nearly foot long soft rods, warm, chewy, and flavorful.
Mrs. Burgerdogboy went for the chopped Cobb salad, with an add on of chopped tenderloin steak; the salad was artfully arranged on the plate, and the beef was flavorful and very tender.
I opted for the “light” portion of country fried steak, which came with mash and white gravy. The steak coating was crispy, and the meat was tender. A lot of prep of CFS use a less than premium cut of beef, but I can’t say that was the case here. It’s a good piece of beef.
My entree is not for the feint of heart or carb counters, however. With a single plate topping 2000 calories and nearly 200 carbs, that’s a lot of “nutrition.”
We passed on dessert, tho we have had their chocolate mother-lode cake before, six layers, and 11 bucks worth of a slice of cake that can feed an entire table.
I don’t know where Claim Jumper fits in the restaurant hierarchy. It’s a few notches above what I would call “fast casual”, but a few notches below “fine dining.”
The bill for an appetizer, two entrees, 1 cocktail, 1 coffee came in at $52 including tip.
Claim Jumper is a great place for good food, prepared well, and parties of diners with diverse palates. With virtually every food category offered on the menu, from grills, to salads, to pasta, to sandwiches, no one in your party will go away hungry.