Welcome fall with a main course of delicious fried prairie chicken breasts with creamy gravy and traditional sides
Fall officially begins this coming Wednesday. This past Wednesday, September 15th, Kansas opened its Greater Prairie Chicken Season, which now runs until January 31, 2022. There are mixed feelings on the length of the season, but I think we can all agree that the start of both fall and chicken season makes for a perfect time to turn those birds into classic colder-weather comfort food.
Though the origins of the dish chicken fried steak remain nebulous, I think we can speculate it owes its roots to a German or Austrian immigrant—diehard schnitzel-ers—who landed somewhere in the south, maybe nearby my relatives in Eastern Kentucky, where comfort food is king. It’s a staple at any diner in America. In Winfield, Kansas, Biederman’s Bistro is the closest I can get to a decent chicken fried steak, though I’m confident their gravy comes from powder.
In the case of gravy, it would seem so many restaurants take shortcuts, and that breaks my heart. So like any recipe, when convenience takes precedence over love, one must take matters into his or her own hands. This gravy is incredibly simple to make after frying your prairie chicken breasts. Like any dish, salting to taste is crucial, because this gravy should never taste bland. For further notes on how “salt to taste” works, and tips on salt in general, check out one of my latest: “Why Salt is Important for Cooking Game.”
Any questions or comments? Message me on Instagram @WildGameJack
Chicken Fried Prairie ChickenJack Hennessy
- 2 prairie chicken breasts, flattened into cube steaks
- 3 cups vegetable shortening
- kosher salt
- black pepper freshly cracked
- 2 cups all-purpose flour for dredging
- freshly minced parsley for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups butter milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp black pepper ground
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup leftover shortening from frying
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream
- Carefully tenderize and flatten prairie chicken breasts with meat mallet.
- In a deep baking dish or similar container, mix all batter ingredients. In a similar size, separate dish or container, add 2 cups all-purpose flour.
- Add 3 cups vegetable shortening to a large skillet and heat on medium to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To fry prairie chicken breasts, first coat in container of 2 cups flour, shake off excess, then dip in batter, then back into flour and finally into frying pan. Sear each side to golden brown.
- When both sides are golden brown, add to a paper-napkin-covered plate and lightly pat dry with paper towels to absorb grease. When done, add to a wire rack and lightly tent with aluminum foil. Do NOT put in over to cook longer.
- Keep 1/4 cup of grease from skillet and discard the rest. In same skillet, use that leftover 1/4 cup grease and add 1/4 cup flour, heating on medium and stirring often to pick up brown bits to create a roux.
- To that same skillet with roux, add 4 cups heavy whipping cream and bring to a good simmer. Stir often for 6-7 minutes until fairly thick. Salt to taste.
- To serve, place fried prairie chicken on plate and pour on the gravy. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and (optional) freshly minced parsley. Enjoy!
Jack Hennessy grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago and didn't start hunting until he attended graduate school in Spokane, Washington, at the age of 26. Hennessy began work in professional kitchens in high school but didn't start writing wild game recipes until he joined the Spokesman-Review in 2014. Since then, his recipes have appeared with Petersen's Hunting, Backcountry Journal, Gun Dog Magazine, among many others. He now lives with his wife, daughter, and Wirehaired Vizsla, Dudley, in Wichita, Kansas.