Yeah, I think that title pretty much hits it dead on. Last week, I was rambling around the kitchen, found my favorite Trail Boss’ Cowboy Cookbook, and made what I consider a pretty decent excuse for chicken fried steak and skillet gravy. It’s the kinda meal that Hits. The. Spot. if ya know what I mean.

So I’m not the kind of person that follows a recipe to the “T”. I’m more likely to read a few, pick a few things I like, throw in my favorite seasonings, and see how it turns out. I’ve learned a few tricks from these trail and ranch recipes, so I thought I’d share.

Number 1 – The dreaded breading on fried food. It’s impossible. I can’t get it right, no matter how I try. SO I found the trick. Mix together your flour, seasonings, and whatnots. Lay your steaks on the cutting board, sprinkle your flour mixture, and beat it in with a tenderizer. But you don’t want flour and meat splatter from the ceiling to the floor. Take a ziplock gallon freezer bag and lay it over the meat while tenderizing. The mallet usually doesn’t tear through the good bags, and will shield the mess from going anywhere. The meat fries up easily, there’s no mess with the breading, no soaking in milk, and you still get that awesome chicken-fried flavor!

Number 2 – Skillet gravy can be easy. Not sure how I managed it, but the skillet gravy from these steaks turned out super easy. Start with 4 tbs of grease, 4 tbs of flour. Stir together over medium heat. Once that’s mixed together, slowly add milk, stir over heat, and continue until you reach desired consistency. I like my skillet gravy thick; sometimes described as stick-to-your-arteries good. Add a lil pepper and your good to go!

Number 3 – Peppers never go to waste. I actually heard this from a ranch wife once. Do you ever have jalapeno, serano, or whatever peppers sit in the fridge just a little too long? Cut off the stems, browned spots, and finely chop to store in sealed bowl. Add some lemon or lime juice and you have a pepper garnish that goes on anything. I added a bit to my gravy and it was perfect.

I know it’s not your perfect meal, but it hits the spot after a long day of work. Add your favorites potatoes or beans and you’ve got a meal to savor. Oh, the most important trick I have learned with cooking, the dishes are easier if done sooner rather than later. No one likes cleaning a cold skillet.

Here’s another recipe from the cookbook that I loved: Pole Line Chili

What’s your favorite, easy comfort food meal? What tricks have you learned from ole ranch cooks?