Have you heard of The Pioneer Woman? You must have, if you are reading a blog. Nearly everyone who can say the word “blog” without snickering or looking confused has been on The Pioneer Woman's site. Her heartfelt, funny stories of life on the ranch in Oklahoma, the passion she still feels for her husband (and his Wranglers) 15 years after they married, the love she feels for her children (whom she homeschools), and the crazy shenanigans that transpire on that ranch have captivated millions. Literally. She has millions of people visiting her website every month.
Yet, she's still humble and lovely, funny and gracious. She may have been on Good Morning America and The View the past few months, promoting her NY Times best-selling book , but she's still grounded.
(I'm lucky enough to have met her, a couple of times, and I can tell you that the woman really inhabits a room with her attentive kindness.)
Danny and I cooked out of The Pioneer Woman's cookbook for a week a while back, and we had a heck of a good time. In fact, Danny asked me to marry him again about 42 times that week. Ree makes good food, simply, food that doesn't require a lot of complicated steps. Food that celebrates butter and sugar and meat.
Since she and her husband own a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, you can imagine there aren't as many pork recipes in the book as we might have hoped. (There is a lovely spicy pulled pork, however, and the recipe begins with this line: “Oh my goodness, am I ever in love with pork shoulder. Please don't tell the cattle ranchers.” So once again, she's good.) However, Ree does have a simple, delicious recipe for making chicken-fried steak. Danny and I had a couple of pork cube steaks in the refrigerator one afternoon.
“How about these done like chicken-fried steak, but with pork?” I asked him.
He sort of grimaced. Danny's funny about food that way — if I have an idea that seems out of the unusual for him, he resists. At first.
Once I lay this plate down on the dining room table, however, he did not resist at all. He dug his fork in and began eating.
1 ½ pounds pork cube steak
1 large egg
¾ cup milk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (we used a blend of gluten-free flours, plus a pinch of xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Ree uses Lawry’s, and we used a red-pepper salt from Morocco we had in the spice drawer)
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon black pepper
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
¼ cup canola oil
Set up a couple of bowls along the kitchen counter, next to the stove. In one put the egg, whisked together with the milk. In the next, the flour, seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper, stirred together well. Have the pork cube steaks on a plate.
Season the pork steaks with salt and pepper, on both sides.
Dip one steak into the milk-egg mixture. Flip it and coat the other side too.
Dip the egg-coated pork steak into the seasoned flour. Turn it over and over again until every pat of the steak is coated.
Put this same steak back into the milk-egg mixture, then again in the flour. This double-dipping and coating process makes the final pork steaks extra crisp.
Repeat this process with all the pork steaks and rest them on a plate.
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When you can drop a few pinches of flour into the oil and it sizzles, the oil is ready. Put no more than 3 steaks at a time into the hot oil. Cook until the edges begin to brown, about 2 ½ minutes. Turn over and cook until the other side has browned nicely, also about 2 ½ minutes.
Serve the steaks immediately. (And if you have cooked more than 3, keep the first batch warm in a 200° oven while you finish the last batch.)
Ree also serves these with pan-dripping gravy, which is delicious. But you’re going to have to buy The Pioneer Woman Cooks for that recipe!