Texas' Best Chicken Fried Steaks
That which does not kill us makes us stronger
By Wells Dunbar,
4:26PM, Fri. Jan. 5, 2007
Here's some reading on a subject closed to our clogged hearts: chicken fried steak. We were initially drawn to DallasFood.org via author Scott's obsessively detailed 10-part takedown of obscenely overpriced Texas confectioners Noka Chocolates. ("Who would guess that the world's most expensive chocolates, several times over, are made in a tiny kitchen shoehorned between a pair of hair salons in a half-abandoned strip mall in Plano, Texas?") But poking further around the site, we discovered his 50-meal, five-month odyssey in search of the best chicken fried steak in Dallas. If, like me, you've spent some time in the Metroplex, it's a mouth-watering trip down memory lane. (Just why repeated trips to Bubba's didn't give me juvenile diabetes is a mystery for the ages.) But luckily for us, Scott recalibrates his sensors in Austin, visiting Freddie's Place, Threadgill's, Hoover's, Tony's Southern Comfort, Hill's Café, and, uhh, Vespaio. Don't ask.
But the most interesting segment deals only tangentially with the gravy bathed staple. It's an interview with rapper Tow Down, member of the Screwed Up Click, that cadre of MCs assembled by DJ Screw. Now deceased, Screw crafted the codeine-drenched sound of Houston hip hop by slowing (or "screwing") the records he mixed. After enjoying some success with his first album, Tow Down titles his second platter (you guessed it) Chicken Fried Steak. "Tow Down chose and embraced the dish as a symbol of the South (particularly Texas)," Scott writes. "There's defiance in that decision. After all, he deemed it necessary to include a recipe for chicken-fried steak in the liner notes." All in all, an excellent and surprisingly bittersweet primer for those uninitiated in the ways of Houston rap (or real chicken fried steak, for that matter).