Ree Drummond: Welcome to her frontier

Ree Drummond shows the cowboys that she can hang. Yee-haw!

Ree Drummond ditched Los Angeles for life on a ranch in Oklahoma after falling for her cowboy husband, whom she lovingly refers to as Marlboro Man (not because he smokes but because he’s rugged and hot) on her immensely popular, award-winning food blog, The Pioneer Woman. But it turns out Hollywood wasn’t ready to say so long to Drummond. Starting Saturday, you can watch the best-selling cookbook author and mother of four in her very own show on Food Network.

Just like her blog, the show “The Pioneer Woman” offers a taste of Drummond’s unique, lo-fi- meets-high-tech domestic life — there are horses to wrangle, calves to wean and a blog to put out. Taking center stage are her spunky sense of humor and, of course, the down-home family recipes she prepares.

“I do [fun dishes like] chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes, but I also do a pizza with prosciutto and arugula piled on top,” says Drummond. “Of course, my husband doesn’t eat it. He would not touch a pizza like that with a 10-foot pole!

And what’s the busy mom’s go-to dish on days she just doesn’t feel like cooking?

“Ohhh, Cocoa Puffs?” says Drummond, laughing. “I’m only halfway kidding. What I would whip up for myself is different than what I’d whip up for my family. Tacos are a big whip-up dish because pico de gallo is a condiment [in this house], so I always have a big bowl of it.” As for herself: “My favorite is pasta with tomato-cream sauce. Just onion and garlic sauteed in a little butter and olive oil and then tomato sauce and heavy cream. Just let it bubble and shave parmigiana on top. It just — it feeds my soul.”

See why we love this woman? We’ll bring over a bottle of wine to accompany that dish any day.

Recipe: Chicken fried steak with gravy

Copyright 2011 Ree Drummond All Rights Reserved

Yield: 6 servings

Chicken fried Steak:
3 pounds cube steak (tenderized round steak that’s been extra tenderized)
1-½ cups whole milk,
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
¾ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoons cayenne
1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
½ cup canola or vegetable oil, for frying
 1 tablespoon butter, for frying

Gravy:
¼ cup grease from the steaks
1/3 cup all- purpose flour
3 – 4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
x   ground black pepper

Begin with setting up an assembly line of dishes for the meat: milk mixed with the two eggs in one; flour mixed with spices in one; meat in one; then have one clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.

Work one piece of meat at a time. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then place it in the flour mixture. Turn to coat. Place the meat into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Finally, place it back in the flour and turn to coat. ?(So: dry mixture/wet mixture/dry mixture.) Place the breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with remaining meat.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. When the butter sizzles immediately, you know it’s ready. (It should not brown right away, though; if it does, the fire’s too hot.) Cook meat, three pieces at a time, until edges start to look golden brown for around 2 minutes each side. Remove the steaks to a paper towel-lined plate and keep them warm. Repeat until all meat is cooked.

After all the meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the grease back to the pan and allow it to heat up.

When the grease is hot, sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Add more flour if it looks overly greasy; add a little more grease if it becomes too pasty/clumpy. Keep cooking until the roux reaches a deep golden brown color.

Pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thick. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.

Serve the meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over the whole shebang!

Follow Tina Chadha on Twitter @TinaatMetro.


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