There is something traditional about Fried cube steaks and homemade gravy. I get asked a lot, “How do you cook venison?” Well, the short answer is, “Anyway, I use beef; I use venison.” You can equally substitute the two types of meat. Venison is leaner than beef and contains more vitamins and minerals.
The wildgame animals are allowed to roam freely and are not injected with hormones. However, just like other animals, they have tough cuts that are more enjoyable tenderized or slow-cooked. This recipe of fried venison with homemade gravy has been a southern staple for many households through the years.
Whether you are a seasoned hunter or an adventurous home cook, venison-fried cube steak is a delicious way to celebrate the bounty of the wilderness and enjoy a taste of the great outdoors right at your dining table.
Fried Cube Steak
- Package of Venison Cube Steak(Beef will work also)
- Seasoning Salt, other favored seasonings
- 2 Eggs
- Frying Oil
- Bacon grease/Pan dripping
- Salt & Pepper
Preparing the Venison Cube Steak
Cube steaks are always on my butcher request sheet. They are an easy dish to prepare, very filling, and a crowd favorite. You can make a variety of dishes using tenderized cube steaks. If purchasing, beef cube steaks are also reasonably cheap and make for an economically filling dinner.
The butchering process of creating cube steak involves transforming tougher cuts of meat into tender, flavorful steaks suitable for frying or grilling. Typically, cube steak is derived from beef cuts like round, top round, or sirloin. Here’s a brief explanation of the butchering process for cube steak:
- Selection of Meat: The process begins with the selection of a suitable cut of meat, often from the hindquarters of the animal. These cuts tend to be lean but can be tough due to the dense muscles.
- Tenderization: To make the meat more tender, the butcher employs a mechanical tenderizing method. This typically involves running the meat through a machine equipped with rows of small, sharp blades or needles. These blades pierce the meat, breaking down tough connective tissues and creating a cube-like pattern on the surface, hence the name “cube steak.” This can also be done manually with a kitchen mallet. This process tenderizes the meat and allows for quick cooking.
- Portioning: After tenderization, the meat is portioned into individual steaks of the desired thickness, usually around 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
The butchering process of creating cube steak is all about transforming tougher cuts into tender, flavorful steaks that are both versatile and delicious. Here is a chart that shows the Venison process.
Breading and Frying
Cube steak is typically pan-fried, breaded shallow-fried, or grilled to perfection. It’s a versatile cut that can be seasoned and prepared in various ways to create a delicious and tender meal.
- Start heating frying oil in your pan. I use a large Castiron skillet; I like the flavor it adds to the dish. You want the oil to be about mid-way, shallow frying, on the meat but not fully covering. Gather two bowls; in one, add the Flour. In the Flour, add in the seasoning salt and other desired seasonings. In the second bowl, whisk together your eggs and milk. You may come across old recipes where they “dry fried” the cube steak, only dipping in Flour and omitting the eggwash. That is an option if you have an egg allergy or prefer a lighter breading. I like to think they made meals “happen” back then. There weren’t always eggs on the cowboy cattle drives or when the hens stopped laying in the winter. I have made the cube steak both ways, and both taste good.
- Dip the meat into the Flour, then into the egg wash, and then back into the Flour for a crispy exterior. Drop meat into the heated oil and fry until the breading is golden brown and cooked halfway. Then flip and cook the other side until golden brown and fully cooked.
- Remove from the skillet and place on a plate with a paper towel on it to strain any excess oil. Begin preparing the gravy.
Crafting Homemade Gravy
You can make a rich and flavorful homemade gravy using pan drippings. I save my bacon grease in a canister for use when needed. There are specific canisters made with strainers on top to strain out any debris when pouring in hot grease. There are so many uses for items like bacon grease, rendered tallow, and lard, but I’ll save that for a different article. This same process can be used for breakfast gravy as well. Making homemade gravy has become a lost skill. It is relatively easy once you learn the process.
After frying your cube steaks, you can scrape out the contents left in the pan for a cleaner gravy product. I personally leave a small amount for extra flavoring.
- Add in bacon grease or use remaining pan drips(oil). Whisk around until heated; add Flour while constantly whisking. You want it to be foamy or bubbling; if it starts to clump, add more grease or drippings.
- When thoroughly combined, stir in milk. Heat over medium-high until gravy is boiling and thickening.
- If gravy is too thick for your liking, add more milk until the desired consistency.
- Add in salt and pepper to taste. Be generous with the salt!
Pour gravy directly over the fried cube steak before serving. This recipe sides well with corn on the cob and mashed potatoes. Your homemade gravy will also pair nicely with the mashed potatoes. We encourage our readers to embark on a wild culinary adventure, savoring the rich flavors, and share in the joy of this traditional comfort dish that pays homage to the wilderness and celebrates the traditions of the hunt. Bon appétit!