CFS: A Hangover Cure?
October 7, 2011
His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum.
~Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
That dreaded hangover. Lifelessly sprawled out after a lousy night’s sleep, and then finally dragging your sweaty dog ass out of bed with bleary red eyes and black circles, nasty dry mouth, throbbing head, sour stomach—dazed and groggy with bouts of delayed recall, piecing the night together awash in remorse. An unforgiving bathroom mirror makes quick note of the evening’s overindulgence. Water galore, aspirin, pepto, vitamins, a long shower, bananas, OJ, and some coffee STAT! Afterwards, greasy carbs and maybe some hair of the dog witch.
The sober medical term is veisalgia, from the Norwegian for “uneasiness following debauchery” (kveis) and the Greek for “pain” (algia). Toxic doses of alcohol often cause dehydration (one glass causes the body to expel 800-1,000 ml of water), promote secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, inhibit glutamine production (causing fatigue), reduce sodium and potassium levels (reducing nerve and muscle function), lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), produce cytokine release (causing headaches, nausea and lethargy), and enhance glycogen losses.
Outside of abstinence, there is likely no miracle remedy for the hangover. Yet, some foods provide comfort to the wounded and even allow the body to rebound some. To each person their own potion, though food does speed up metabolic rates helping to rid the body of booze more rapidly. One suggestion is to consume the grease bombs before imbibing. This coats the stomach and intestinal linings, which slows the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol.
CFS is an amalgam of fried meat and gravy long endeared in small town cafes and truck stops. Whether labeled chicken fried steak, country fried steak, or pan fried steak, it is a culinary orphan with origins unknown. Some say the dish is a variant of wiener schnitzel, others claim it is derived from Scottish collops, while some Texas haunts zealously lay claim to the actual birthplace. Whatever its roots, CFS does remain a portion of the official state meal of Oklahoma—a rather ignominious accolade.
CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
2 1/2 lbs cube steak (tenderized round steak)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 C buttermilk
3 whole eggs, beaten
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Canola oil, to cover pan
3 plump fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 C all purpose flour
2 C whole milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Green onions, sliced lengthwise, for garnish
Preheat oven to 200 F
Season the steaks on both sides with the salt and pepper. Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a dish. Mix the flour and cayenne pepper in another dish. One by one, dredge each steak on both sides in the buttermilk/egg mixture. Next, place the meat on the plate of seasoned flour. Turn to coat thoroughly. Place the meat back into the buttermilk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Return to the flour and turn to coat. (Wet–>Dry, Wet–>Dry). Gently lay the coated steaks onto a waxed paper covered rimmed sheet pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes or so before frying.
Cover the bottom of a heavy, large skillet with canola oil, add crushed garlics and place over medium high. Once the oil begins to shimmer, remove and discard the garlics (do not burn them). Add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook on both sides until edges look golden brown, around 2-2 1/2 minutes each side.
Once each batch is done, remove to a platter lined with paper towels. Once all the steak is done, place on wire rack placed over a rimmed sheet pan, and keep warm in the oven.
Pour the skillet grease into a pyrex pitcher. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium low heat. Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan and allow to heat.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, mix flour with grease, creating a golden brown paste (roux). If necessary, sprinkle in a little more flour and whisk to achieve desired consistency.
Whisking constantly, slowly pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy, stirring frequently. Add more milk if the gravy becomes overly thick. Salt and generously pepper, cooking until the gravy is smooth and thick, about for 5-10 minutes. Taste again, as underseasoned gravy is a sacrilege. Plate, ladle the gravy over the steaks, garnish with sliced green onions, and serve with smashed potatoes and a green (maybe even fried eggs).
Pourboire: some researchers opine that bacon combats the common hangover by boosting amine levels which clear the head. So, consider adding bacon lardons after removing the steaks, cook until crisp and remove to paper towels. The bacon fat forms a base for the gravy and the reserved lardons can be used as a garnish.