Texans are serious about their chicken fried steak and set the standard for the dish.
Chicken fried steak is a staple menu item at many diners and other restaurants that offer American comfort food. The dish typically utilizes a less expensive cut of beef that has been tenderized, breaded and fried. Mashed potatoes and cream-based gravy is the traditional accompaniment to chicken fried steak.
It is generally believed that the dish was brought to Texas by Austrian and German immigrants in the late 19th century and is an adapted version of their Wiener Schnitzel, which uses veal that is covered in bread crumbs, rather than flour. But like so many American dishes, there are multiple claims to the creation. A short-order cook named Jimmy Don Perkins from Lamesa, Texas, claimed to be the originator of the dish in 1911. The story says that he mistook separate orders for chicken and fried steak as one special-request order and the dish was born. There was also a Texas chain of restaurants called Pig Stand that claims to have created the dish in 1921.
Wherever the dish may have come from, Texans take their chicken fried steak, or CFS as they often call it, very seriously. There are three different versions of the dish in the state. In East Texas they dip the meat in egg and then flour. The Central Texas version is similar to Wiener Schnitzel in that it is dipped in eggs and bread crumbs. In West Texas they skip the egg and cover the meat with just flour, which is often referred to as pan-fried steak. The leftover grease and drippings in the cooking pan, cast-iron of course, is used to make the peppery cream gravy that must be served with the steak.
Chicken fried steak is known as the unofficial state dish of Texas. In 2011 the state’s House of Representatives named October 26 as Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day.