Summer is road-trip season, so we're taking a culinary tour of America. But because Portland is a city of immigrants from other states, we don't have to leave town to do it. We're traveling to 50 Portland restaurants to try one distinctive food from each state. Our 50 Plates tour continues with a chicken fried steak from Oklahoma, which joined the union on November 16, 1907.
The state: Oklahoma, the Sooner state, which has more official state symbols—including an official state language, ANG’LISH, SO THEM MESSICANS BETTER LEARN IT UP!—than any other state. Including a state meal of squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak and pecan pie. Sadly, most of these claims are specious given that all those foods have deep roots elsewhere, including older Southern states and neighboring Texas, where the chicken fried steak comes from. But taking Texas leftovers is a time-honored tactic of Oklahoma, which has a proud tradition of borrowing half of its college football talent from its larger southern neighbor then pretending to have a rivalry with it. Also, how can a state claim ANG’LISH as its official state language when they be talkin’ funny like? One thing we ain’t arguin’ ‘bout is that they’s racist. Real racist. Even the cool Okies is maybe a little racist.
The food: Chicken fried steak, which is an integral part of Oklahoma’s official state meal. But just like Oklahoma football stars Adrian Peterson and Greg Pruitt, it’s from Texas. The dish is made with a cheap cut of steak that is breaded and fried like chicken, then sopped with gravy.
Other foods considered and rejected: Squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries and pecan pie.
Get it from: The Country Cat (7937 SE Stark St, 408-1414), the beloved Montavilla “dinner house” that specializes in decadent brunches, including a chicken fried steak plate ($12) with with mashed potatoes, braised kale and Worcestershire gravy.
Click on the map to see each state's distinctive food and where to get it in Portland.