Ding…ding…ding! Order up! Chic Steak Sandwich, extra mayo, hold the pickle!
My father, George Graham, Sr., was slinging burgers at White Tower in Michigan in the years before WW II and wound up welding aircraft parts in a factory in Detroit until war’s end. Flush with cash and a dream, he and my mom headed back to the South and opened a small café on the main drag of the little town of Bogalusa, Louisiana.
In 1946, my father’s restaurant–the Acme Café–was the epitome of a sleepy small-town diner but for one big difference: It was located across the street from one of the nation’s largest paper mills employing over 4,000 hungry workers. The Acme was a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week operation and for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the hours in between, my father served up Southern specialties that developed a wide following.
In those years (before the interstate highway system), the Acme was a must-stop on the drive between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. It was famous for its fried chicken, seafood gumbo, chicken and dumplings, and one of the most popular items of all–the Chic Steak Sandwich.
My dad invented this sandwich out of necessity. Chicken fried steak was a popular menu item, but in those days, the cost of beef put a sandwich version out of reach. Pork was the answer to my father’s Chic Steak Sandwich. Cutting ¾-inch-thick slices of the lower-priced pork loin and running them twice through a tenderizing machine created a magnificent sandwich cut–tender, tasty, and huge. With a dredge of flour and simple seasonings, the pork fried up to golden brown crispy perfection. Just a slather of mayo, pickle slices, and all dressed on a sesame bun, the Chic Steak Sandwich was a big hit.
Until his retirement 45 years later, my father ran that simple café with a smile on his face and a warm greeting to everyone who entered those glass doors for a seat at his counter. No doubt, the Acme sold hundreds of thousands of those sandwiches, and today I share my father’s recipe for his Chic Steak Sandwich with you.
- ½ gallon canola oil, for frying
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 4 (3/4-inch-thick) slices pork loin, tenderized
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 large sesame seed hamburger buns
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 8 slices ripe tomato
- 1 cup round dill pickle slices
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil.
- In a shallow bowl, add the flour and seasoning. Stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the pork loin slices with salt and pepper; dredge in the flour and coat each side thoroughly removing any excess.
- Once the oil reaches 350ºF, add the pork loin and fry until golden brown on each side. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and keep warm.
- For assembly, open the buns and slather both halves with mayonnaise; add the shredded lettuce and 2 tomato slices along with the pickle slices to the bottom half. Top with the fried pork loin and close the sandwich. Serve with potato chips or French fries.
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