“What lobster is to the New England States, Chicken Fried Steak is to this part of Oklahoma.” So claims the menu at Bob’s Pig Shop, 1 of the happiest places on god’s greenish planet. Not only is it home to the Okie Noodling Tournament (see here, here & here); not only is it run by the one-of-a-kind Phil Henderson, a wildly yarn-spinning sage with a soul of gold; not only is it a treasure trove of hard-won Americana—but it’s a genuine roadside BBQ j-o-i-n-t with an 80-year-old smoke pit.
Now, as both a childhood Okie & a Bostonian in much of adulthood & spirit, I have to admit I’ve never gone gaga over either lobster or chicken-fried steak. In its natural richness & sweetness, just a little of the former seems to me to go a long way—doing its best work as part of an ensemble rather than as a solo performer. As for the latter, 1 too many limp, gray gristle disks on my grade-school cafeteria tray led me to take personal offense at chicken-fried steak as an abomination of the red-state dinner plate on the order of pigs in a blanket & anything in white gravy. I’ve snubbed it ever since.
But when I saw it on the menu at Bob’s, I knew this was our chance to reconcile, chicken-fried steak & me. And kiss & make up we did.
Served on toasted housemade sourdough with lettuce & tomato, the cube steak was coated just thickly enough in a zesty seasoned breading & deep-fried. It was also supposed to boast a little housemade buttermilk ranch; mine didn’t, for some reason, but it didn’t need any after a few squirts of the tangy signature table sauce (whose recipe, I’d guess, is fairly close to this one).
Speaking of seasoning, I couldn’t resist a side order of the seasoned fries.
In retrospect, my only regret is that I didn’t take home a few orders of homemade tamales & cobbler. But then, as they say, regret is just another word for an excuse to return.