Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day
Also known as
Chicken Fried Steak Day
annually on October 26th (since 2011)
While there is a debate as to if chicken fried steak got its start in Texas, the holiday Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day definitely began there. The day stemmed from efforts undertaken by Jeffrey Yarbrough. Yarbrough, a public relations worker based in Dallas and a former president of the Texas Restaurant Association, thought there should be a day devoted to chicken fried steak in the state, given the food's long history in the state as well as its popularity there.
Yarbrough took it upon himself to get the day recognized. He initially went to the Texas Department of Agriculture, but they told him that it wasn't really their role to name holidays. He then went to the Texas Beef Council, who said they didn't have the power to designate an official day. He then stopped in Temple, and met with state Representative Ralph Sheffield, who also was in the restaurant business, and owned Temple's Las Casas Restaurant. Sheffield took up Yarbrough's cause. A number of Texas restaurants also helped lobby for the holiday's creation.
A bill was passed in the Texas House in 2011 with Sheffield's backing which designated October 26 as Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day. The day has become known informally simply as Chicken Fried Steak Day. Restaurants throughout Texas mark the day with special deals and other activities, such as giving a portion of their sales revenue from the day to a charity or other community organization. The day has spread to be celebrated at restaurants in other states, and by people all across the country.
Chicken fried steak consists of beef coated in batter and breading that is then fried. There are various ways to make it. The meat used is often from tough cuts, and "scrawny little cutlets" are often used, but prime beef or choice cuts like tenderloin may be used as well. The steak is usually first pounded so that it is tenderized. It may then be dipped in buttermilk and then floured. Seasonings are usually added, and the steak may be given an egg wash. The steak may be breaded with any number of things, from tortilla crumbs to panko breadcrumbs. Its name comes from how it is prepared: it is often deep-fried like fried chicken. It is most often served with cream gravy, and it can be a component of many types of meals: it may be found on a breakfast platter, and also may be used to make a burger.
Although chicken fried steak is most associated with Texas, it is unclear if it got its start there, and there is some evidence that it did not. For example, according to one source, it first showed up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It also is associated with other states. For example, Oklahoma includes it in its official state meal.
Nonetheless, there is a long history of chicken fried steak in Texas, and other foods in that state may have helped influence its creation. Wiener schnitzel, which is similar to the dish, was brought to Texas by immigrants from Germany and Austria during the nineteenth century. Similarly, Texas cowboys were known to eat pan-fried steak. Celtic immigrants to the Deep South were known to fry much of their food. Chicken fried steak also bears a resemblance to milanesa, a South American dish consisting of a breaded filet of beef, pork, veal, or chicken, which was brought to that continent by Italian immigrants in the 1860s. No matter where it got its start, chicken fried steak is an integral part of Texas cuisine and is loved in many other places as well. We celebrate it today!