from America's Test Kitchen 2004 Cookbook
3 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
6 cube steaks, pounded to 1/3 inch
4-5 cups peanut oil
1 medium onion, minced
1/8 tsp dried thyme
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 TB flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1) FOR THE STEAKS: Measure the flour, 5 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and cayenne into a large shallow dish. In a second large shallow dish, beat the egg, baking soda and powder; stir in the buttermilk (the mixture will bubble and foam).
2. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Drop the steaks into the flour and coat. Shake the excess flour from the steak, the, using tongs, dip the steaks into the egg mixture, turning to coat well and allow excess to drip off. Coat the steaks with flour again, shake off the excess and place them on the wire rack.
3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, set a second wire rack over a second rimmed baking sheet, and place the sheet on the oven rack: heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a large plate with double layer of paper towels. Meanwhile, heat 1 inch of oil in a large dutch oven or frying pan over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Place the three steaks in the oil and fry, turning once, until deep golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes (oil temperature will drop to about 335). Transfer the steaks to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then transfer them to the wire rack in the oven. Bring the oil back to 375 and repeat the cooking/draining process with the remaining steaks.
4. FOR THE GRAVY: Carefully pour the hote oil through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot. Return the browned bits from the strainer along with 2 TB of frying oil back into the dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium, add the onion and thyme, and cook until the onion has softened and beginning to brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the flour to the pan and stir until well combined and starting to dissolve, about 1 minute. Which in the broth, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and cayenne; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. The gravy should have a loose consistency, it will thicken as it cools.
5. Transfer the steaks to individual plates. Spoon generous amounts of gravy over each. Serve immediately.
Getting the initial oil temperature to 375 degrees is keep to the success of this recipe. An instant-read thermometer with a high upper range is perfect for checking the temperature; a clip on candy/deep-fry thermometer is also fine. If your Dutch oven measures 11 inches across (as does ours), you will need to fry the steaks in two batches.