As many of you know, I am an Italian-American from South Philly. I'm the typical cliche in that regard. Loud, mouthy, opinionated, great cook, etc. What you may not know is that my grandfather on my mother's side was actually raised on a farm at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, in a little town called Swoope.
When I was in Los Angeles filming MasterChef, in between days, we would have some free time in the kitchen. Well, one day I decided to make My Famous Fried Chicken. I remember getting snickered at by some of my cast mates that hailed from the South. They thought I was a one trick pony that could only cook Italian-American classics. That was until they tasted my fried chicken and their eyes rolled back in their head with a ridiculous foodgasm. BUT, I digress.
See, my grandfather was an AMAZING cook. I learned so much from him. I incorporate so much of those southern comfort techniques into my Italian cuisine. It's what makes my food so well seasoned, rich and delicious.
At the end of the day though, I am a complete sucker for some down home cooking. Things like corn fritters, green beans cooked all day with a ham hock, bread pudding, fried chicken, and of course this recipe.
I have my mother make it every year for me for my birthday. I order it EVERY time I go to the Cracker Barrel (which is probably one of my favorite chain restaurant guilty pleasures). I'd eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day with buttermilk mashed potatoes and cucumber salad til you rolled me into Fat Camp. It's amazing. And it seriously warms your soul. It will yours too.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees to keep fried steaks warm.
Using a 12 inch skillet, place enough vegetable oil in the pan so that it fills it about 1/4 of the way up, and heat to 350 degrees.
Place your steaks, one at a time, in a gallon sized ziplock bag and pound to ¼ inch thick with a heavy rolling pin or the flat side of a tenderizer.
Slowly whisk in 1 ½ cups of the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. If your gravy becomes to thick, add a little of the ½ cup of reserved milk until it thins out to your liking. (Remember, this is supposed to be a thick and hearty milk gravy).