Plate of country fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, and Brussels sprouts
How Chicken Fried Steak Is Similar To Classic Schnitzel
While chicken fried steak has its origins in Texas, it is nearly identical to German schnitzel, and the two dishes are directly related to each other.
Chicken fried steak is essentially steak fried in batter, while schnitzel is a category of German food in which any meat is tenderized, pounded thin, coated in breading, and fried.
Schnitzel evolved as a way to transform tough cuts of meat. While veal (aka wiener-schnitzel) is perhaps most recognizable, pork, chicken, and turkey are also common.
While its exact origins are unknown, there is little doubt that chicken fried steak was influenced by German cuisine and German immigrants who arrived in Texas in the 19th century.
Thanks to the plethora of cattle in Texas, beef was the meat of choice. By using classic schnitzel techniques like pounding the meat until tender, chicken fried steak was born.
Today, chicken fried steak varies across Texas, from more traditional to less traditional methods, and it is served with a cream gravy, not unlike schnitzel’s mushroom gravy.