Jul 11, 2010

country fried steak

Our favorite restaurant in Chicago is the Chicago Diner. Unfortunately, we don't live close enough to it to frequent the joint...wait, maybe that's a blessing in disguise :)  Everyone's favorite meal there is the Country Fried Steak. David will order two so he can take one home; invariably, though, it doesn't make it to his lunch box the next day. I even bought their cookbook hoping they included the recipe. Uh, no.

For years I tried recreating this dish only to fail miserably...the breading would fall off in the oil or burn or be soggy...ugh. I was disgusted. Until a little angel came whispering the secret...Paula Deen. OK, not exactly an angel. And not exactly the secret. But she did provide the spark that would be the answer to my Country Fried Steak Glory. You see, she used buttermilk to dredge her steak (real steak) in. Well, having been vegan for quite a long time and before that never having the inclination to use buttermilk, I hadn't realized the consistency of the stuff. Until Ms. Dean poured it in her pan. A light bulb went off: it looked like yogurt. Yogurt! That was my epiphany. And it works beautifully! Dredge your seitan in plain soy yogurt (you may add a smidgen of milk or water to make it thinner), then in seasoned flour and fry it in a cast iron pan with about a half inch of oil. 

No.. Not healthy. I know. The rule in my house is that I will deep-fry (because that is what this is tantamount to) once a month. No more. Go easy on me. This is really good stuff.

Cost Breakdown:
seitan: $3
flour, oil, yogurt: $4
potatoes: $4
almond milk: $2
Total to feed 6 people well:



  1. Amazing! I'm new to your blog, and it's amazing! I've been a vegetarian for about 6 weeks now and am loving it, but Chicken Fried Steak was something I was very sad to give up. It was always my comfort food as an omni. We would have it 2 or 3 times a year (like you said not very healthy) and I always looked forward to it. So excited that I can recreate it as a veg! Thanks again, I'm excited to add you to my google reader so I can keep up!

  2. Hi Stacey! Thank you for visiting. I know exactly how you feel regarding having to give some things up. When we went vegan (not even vegetarian - it was one huge leap), we did it over a weekend and we felt the crunch as soon as our five-year-old began lamenting for a hot dog.

    While there are some things that are more difficult, if not impossible to recreate vegan, most likely there is a way to recreate the feeling, if not the exact taste or texture.

    CFS was a favorite in Texas, where my hubby is from and Lonestar Cafe was a favorite haunt. It is always gratifying when we can find a satisfying replacement for a taste we thought we would have to totally give up for good (read my Deviled Eggs recipe on the Recipe Page).

    If there is something you are craving, let me know and I'll see what is in my bag of goodies. I like nostalgic food as well as healthy eating, especially since I am raising the next ethical generation.

  3. Oooh, lawdy! Girl, that looks so good, you're making my southern genes activate. Looking forward to a recipe, but may even play around with it on my own since I'm thinking that I've gotten enough cooking experience under my belt now to be able to feel my way through it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I'm sure you'll do great - you seem confident enough and that's half the fun. I'll post a recipe and we can compare notes. I bid you good eating!

  5. I will definitely give this a try. How long do your let your seitan rest after you bring it together?

  6. Hi Mike,

    Do you mean after I've dredged the seitan in the yogurt and the flour? If so, not at all. I've read that it is better to let them sit for around 30 minutes before frying, but the yogurt binds the flour to the seitan so well, that I have never needed to wait any. I do dredge all the pieces while the first ones are cooking, therefore the last pieces do sit for a bit.

    Fry on each side for 3 minutes. By the third batch (if you make that much) the oil begins to turn brown and the seitan begins to color faster. You can change the oil or remove your pieces sooner - maybe 2 minutes.

    Thanks for visiting!

  7. I am eagerly waiting for this recipe. I was having the same issue with county frying things, loved the taste couldn't make it work at home. Never knew the answer was in the yogurt.

  8. Hi Tender Branson. It will be posted by tonight! I know the feeling of failure regarding Country Frying. Not a happy place to be.

  9. Just stumbled upon this post today and I'm so excited you cracked the code on the Chicago Diner country fried steak! Any chance you could share the recipe? I looked in your recipes section and didn't see it. Maybe I'm missing it somewhere? Thanks!!!

  10. Hi - this recipe is in Everyday Vegan Eats so I cannot publish it. Email me and I'll pass it to you :)


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