So last night, I attempted something that I have never attempted. I wish I had taken pictures of it. I tried to make Chicken Fried Steak and sweet potato fries. I wanted to make Bryant a nice dinner, and it sounded really good. It was going quite well before I tried to cut the sweet potato… and then everything went to hell. Those things are IMPOSSIBLE to cut safely. It’s much harder than a normal potato, and that wasn’t something that I was expecting. You would think a tuber wouldn’t be so hard to cut through. I cut three of my fingers, at once.
But that was just the start of my adventure. At this time I had seasoned the meat, dredged it in flour and eggs and was letting it rest like the recipe said. That’s when I cut my fingers. Bryant helped me bandage them up and he went back to playing his video games. He offered to help me make it, but I told him no and proceeded. As I was preparing the oil to fry my steaks the recipe said to wait for the oil to shimmer. I have discovered, that I have NO IDEA what that means in cooking. I did wait a few minutes before putting the first two steaks into the oil, I thought it looked shimmer-y, but it didn’t start frying until a few minutes later. I didn’t think much of it, and that the steak would still cook right. I wasn’t entirely wrong. I put the sweet potato fries in the oven so that they would be done when the steaks were done. After I waited the four minutes on each side of the flour-y and egg-y steak I took it out of the oil and looked at it. It was not what chicken fried steak is supposed to look like. The coating wasn’t even crispy looking, it was pale and yellow. I tapped it with a fork to see if the flour and eggs had even cooked on the outside. It seemed firm but a quick stream of oil shot out from a tiny hole in the unappetizing mutation of a wonderful dish that I had created. I dodged it with my ninja skills, tripped over a dog, and caught myself on the counter. It was quite fantastic, despite the fact that I had another steak to pull out and it smelled slightly like burning. I pulled it out. No burns, thankfully, but it was pale and yellowing looking too. This was the part that I started to panic. Not wanting another incident with hot oil geysers appearing out of the barren wasteland that was now my chicken fried steak, I placed the two on a pair of paper towels and blotted them with another. It seemed to help, but it didn’t improve the appearance of the steaks at all. I had three more to go at this point, and I wasn’t going to give up now. I took a deep breath and pick up the two smaller steaks, I placed them in the oil and stepped back quickly (I thought it was going to be like cooking bacon, where the oil freaks the hell out when you put something into it), but nothing happened. The steaks sat there merrily as I watched them with discontent, waiting. I waited a bit longer on each side of the steak, thinking maybe they just need a bit more time than I’m giving them and that these should turn out just fine. So instead of eight minutes total, I gave them about ten and I took them out. BUT NO! They looked exactly the same as the other two, gross pale and appetite killing yellow. The oil had formed pockets on these though, probably thanks to the extra time I had left them in the oil. I groaned, but not loud enough so that Bryant could hear me, I didn’t want him to think that I can’t cook. Even though he knows I can and I have done it before. I shut my eyes, as the oil bubbled at the bits of flour and eggs remaining in the pan, and shook my head. I kept thinking that this all has to be in my head, that I can do this. I opened my eyes and looked at the remaining steak, it was the largest of the five that came in the package, even larger after I had tenderized it. I then looked at the oil, it had calmed down in terms of bubbling and I took a larger breath and held it as I put the steak into the oil. I couldn’t screw this one up, could I? Third times the charm, right? I waited, longer this time, I wanted a good crispy outside, golden brown. I hadn’t changed anything from before, but there isn’t a whole lot you can change except for how long you keep the steak in the oil. So I waited and held my breath, while I watched the time count down for the fries. I had deviated from the recipe only a little, I put different seasonings on them. They smelled good though, extremely good for how the night was going. The timer for the fries went off before I took the steak out.
I took them out, and BOOM! they were burned. Almost all of them. They didn’t smell burned, they smelled fine, but the blackness of the pan side of the fries was no lie. I had ruined sweet potato fries. I put them on the counter to deal with them later, a hovering reminder that this was not the dinner that I had wanted to make. I pulled the steak out of the oil and it was golden brown. I nearly jumped with joy. The edges were a little more done than they should have been but it was golden brown and that’s all that mattered. I blotted it with a paper towel and put it with the rest of the steaks.
It was now time for my to make the gravy. I love gravy, it’s one of my favorite foods. So I checked the recipe, Bryant never needed to know that the steak I made for him was the only one I had done right, and I was going to make him the best gravy he had ever tasted. I took the flour and added it to the hot oil, it kinda boiled at the new addition of substance and I whisked away, feeling okay about it. I then added the chicken broth, and that’s when the gravy decided it didn’t want to be gravy. It wanted to be the Glob of Death from Hell. I continued to whisk through my Glob of Death, waiting for it to thicken and turn into gravy. I didn’t even get to the last step. By the time I was ready to add the milk I had a gravy. It was thick, coagulated, and looked like something that spews from the back end of a dog. I was disgusted with myself and what I had made. I shut the heat off and the Glob of Death From Hell separated itself from the oil. I stared at the pan, the alien monster I had created in a matter of seconds, what was going to be a lovely gravy for the lovely steak I had made for Bryant.
I cried. Yep, I broke down and cried. I cried so hard that Bryant came over. He asked me what was wrong and I told him that I had ruined dinner. He told me that I hadn’t and all we have to do is taste it and it will be fine. I said okay and picked up a fork and a knife to cut into it. In my large amount of frustration, as I went to cut into it, the fork slipped and landed on the floor. At this point I was done, I had had enough and I wanted out. I walked into the living room and sat down. I couldn’t believe that I screwed this up. Bryant tried the steak, he didn’t say anything. I heard him cut off another piece and I heard him say nothing. A few moments later I heard him put a plate on the table and say it tasted like roast beef. Good news, right? Nope. Apparently the flour/egg mess I had used wasn’t edible. I sobbed into his shoulder about how I was sorry that I had ruined dinner. He then tried one of the less burnt fries, he said they were good, but needed salt and pepper.
I was a mess. I was done, there was nothing I could do to save this dinner and there was nothing I could do to make it look like it never happened. Bryant wrapped his arms around me and said not to worry about it, that he would cook dinner. I asked him what he was going to make and he said, “I’m going to make dinner with the phone.”
The night ended with Bryant ordering pizza. It was very sweet of him, something we hadn’t budgeted for, but it made me feel better. I don’t know how I had screwed it up so bad, but apparently I had. I live Murphy’s Law, my entire life is “if something bad can happen, it will”. But good things happen too.
Tonight I’m making corned beef. Because I can and it’s delicious. I’ve made this before so it should be fine, but the Law is the Law.
The recipe I followed: Chicken Fried Evil