Great Moments in Chicken Culinary History
Where did these six poultry-based dishes (with one imposter) get their start?
- By Aviva Shen
- Smithsonian.com, June 01, 2012
(Sergiu Turcanu / Alamy)
As playwright Larry McMurty once said, “Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.” The beloved Southern staple doesn’t actually have anything to do with chicken; it’s a tenderized beefsteak deep-fried in the style of fried chicken. Lamesa, Texas claims to be the birthplace of the chicken-fried steak. The dish was probably inspired by wienerschnitzel brought by German and Austrian immigrants to Texas in the 19th century. Since ranch-heavy Texas had more readily available beef than the usual veal cutlets, the immigrants adapted. The tough beef had to be pulverized and drenched in grease to render it palatable. According to the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, although recipes for the dish date back to 1839, the official name of “chicken fried steak” didn’t appear until 1932, when the Dallas Morning News published a reader-submitted menu.