By Trent Rosser
The wife and I went out to eat the other day. We go and eat out a bit, but it is usually the same spots. Most of the time, we are too tired from work so we just go through a drive thru and call it done. When we do go to a “Sit Down” restaurant, it is the same ole places. The other night, we went to a place that we have not been to in quite a while. Green Chilli Willies is a place just between Amarillo and Canyon. They have everything from steaks to burgers and chicken strips. What they are known for though is their chicken fried steak. Not just a regular chicken fried steak, but 3 different kinds. They have the regular chicken fried, the green chilli chicken fried and the jalapeno chicken fried. All 3 are excellent!
Here is my interpretation of the invention of chicken fried steak. It happened in the south of course. A family had fried chicken one night and as the wife was cooking it, the neighbor came over. She smelled the chicken frying in the pan and decided that she would cook the same thing for her newlywed husband. She took the leftover batter from the neighbors chicken and went home to cook it. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any chicken. All she had in the cold box was cube steak. So she battered up the cube steak and fried it like chicken. She also didn’t have anything but potatoes to go with it. So she made the potatoes and added some gravy for the potatoes. When her husband came home, she served the very first Chicken fried steak with cream gravy and potatoes with a slice of Texas toast. Ok, maybe that is not really what happened, but it sounded good. Regardless of how chicken fried steak came about, it is genius!
Of course, just a chicken fried steak is not enough, you do have to have the potatoes and gravy. Now the state dish of Texas is chili con carne, it should be chicken fried steak! Just about every restaurant in Texas has their own version of chicken fried steak. They all brag about how theirs is the best in Texas. “Award winning Chicken Fried Steak”, “Best Chicken Fried in Texas” are just a few of the claims. Here is where things started to get complicated. Every place started to do their breading a little different with different spices and calling it the best there was. Recently, something happened. A lot of places started to put the toast under the chicken fried steak and gravy. This concept threw me off. Toast is to be eaten last while soaking up the excess gravy and potatoes. By the time you finish the steak and “taters” the bread is soaked in grease and gravy from the chicken fried. Lately every place that we went to, had the same. Toast on bottom, breading covered in grisle and sometimes, the steak was so tough, a meat grinder would not be able to tear it apart. Here is a bit of free advice for cooks, chicken fried steak is not suppose to be chewy like taffy! Needless to say, it had been a while since we had a good chicken fry filling our bellies.
Anyhow, we go to Green Chili Willies and my wife ordered the regular chicken fried, potatoes and corn. I ordered the jalapeno chicken fried also with potatoes and corn. When they arrived, it was steaming hot still and the toast was on the side! OH HAPPY DAY! Granted, I was pretty hungry so it didn’t take me long to have halve of everything gone. This had to be one of the best chicken fried steak I have ever eaten. The jalapenos are not in the steak, but it is in the gravy. There is also cheese on top of the steak. So, I sat there and ate the entire chicken fried steak, tators, corn and used the toast to soak up every little crumb on my plate. My wife did the same thing with her steak as well. We were sitting there marveling about how good they were when the waitress came back around. My mind wanted to tell the waitress how good it was, instead, my mouth ordered another plate. Yep, another full plate. The waitress looked at me like I lost my mind. This time I ordered the green chili chicken fried. My wife shook her head and ordered the peach cobbler! The second chicken fried steak did not disappoint. It too was amazing. I nearly ate all of it, but my stomach had enough. We had to call it done. Both of us walked out of there miserable. We were stuffed like a turkey on Thanksgiving. This renewed our faith in chicken fried steak. Another restaurant here in Amarillo is world renown for a 72 ounce steak. If you can eat it and all the trimmings it is free. We need something like that for chicken fried steak. If you can eat a 40 ounce chicken fried steak, half a pound of tators, half a pound of corn and 2 pieces of Texas toast, it is free. Then again, they could go broke if I went in there! Plus with all that greasy food, I don’t know if our septic system could handle it!