To overcome the blandness, I experiemented with different seasonings in the flour. A little seasoned salt can go a long way to overcome the blandness; but, too much makes it too salty; so, I added other seasonings. Using buttermlk in place of regular milk also adds a bit of acidy goodness.
To overcome the oilyness and lack of crispyness, I turned to the cooking god himself - Alton Brown. I highly recommend watching his chicken fried steak episode; although, I think he makes it far more complicated than it needs to be. But, he does have some good ideas worth incorporating. For one, using the double dip method (seasoned flour -> milk/egg -> back to seasoned flour). For another, letting the breading sit on the meat for a bit before cooking allows to to stick better to the meat. Also, draining the meat on paper towels to remove as much of the oil as possible and the putting in a warm oven helps to keep it crispy.
For the meat, I just use cheap cube steak from the grocery store - usually I picked it up on the used meat bin (the "about to expire" meat bin) for a couple of bucks per package and then stick it in the freezer until I'm ready to use it.
- 4 cube steaks (about 1½ pounds)
- 1½ + ¼ Cups all purpose flour (divided)
- 1 tsp seasoned salt (like Lowrey's)
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp ground thyme
- ½Tbl smoked hot paprika
- 1 Cup buttermilk
- 1 Egg, slightly beaten
- 2 Cups milk
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- smoked salt
- cooling rack on top of a baking sheet
- Another baking sheet to place in oven
- 12" cast iron frying pan
- Plate covered with paper towels
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees
- Mix together in a flat bowl 1½ flour, seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika.
- In another flat bowl, mixed together buttermilk and egg
- Lightly sprinkle both sides of cube steaks with smoked salt
- Dip cube steaks in seasoned flour, then in buttermilk/egg, then back in seasoned flour and place on cooling rack
- Let steaks sit with breading on cooling rack for 15-20 minutes
- While steaks are sitting, preheat frying pan with about ½ oil
- Place steaks in oil, 2 at a time, and cook about ??? miuntes per side. Be careful not to crowd them.
- When steaks are done, remove to plate to drain for a couple of minutes and the move to cooking sheet in oven to stay warm and crisp
- When all steaks are cooked and in oven, drain all but about 3 Tbl of oil from pan, being careful to leave the crispy bits in the pan.
- Add ¼ cup flour to pan to stir to brown for a minute or two
- Add 2 cups milk and quickly whisk together until gravy thickens, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.