This Idaho Finger Steaks with Spicy Cajun Dipping Sauce post is sponsored by the New York Beef Council, but the opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!
Have you ever heard of Idaho Finger Steaks? Sometimes called Idaho’s best kept secret, finger steaks are a delicious finger food…perfect for appetizers or a comfort food meal!
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When you think of Idaho and food, there’s a good chance potatoes are the first thing that comes to mind. After all, Idaho does rank 1st in the US in potato production. But did you realize that cattle play a significant role in Idaho’s agriculture, too? Indeed, cattle and calves rank 2nd behind dairy in terms of cash receipts for Idaho agricultural commodities.
Aside from the importance of cattle within the overall Idaho economy, one of the more unique features of the Idaho beef industry is the fact that most beef cows are raised on open pastures. While the concept of open pastures might be common in the western half of the United States, this practice is not seen much in the eastern states. More than 2/3 of Idaho’s land is owned by state and federal government. In an open pasture system, farmers and ranchers lease open ranch land from the government. In turn, their cattle are allowed to graze and roam freely on that land.
Did you know that cattle have the right-of-way in Idaho? It’s true! Given the open nature of Idaho’s grazing lands, cattle – not the driver – have the right-of-way. Fun facts to know and share!
Idaho Finger Steaks
Any discussion of the beef industry in Idaho has to include Idaho Finger Steaks. So what exactly is a finger steak? Some Idahoans like to think of finger steaks as Idaho’s answer to Southern fried chicken. Think juicy steak that is cut into strips, breaded and battered and then fried until crispy. They’re unique…and they’re delicious!
Growing up in the eastern half of the country, I wasn’t aware of finger steaks. They are wildly popular all over Idaho, and nearly every casual restaurant has their own secret recipe for finger steaks. In fact, finger steaks are so engrained within the culture of Idaho that the finger steak was one of the art designs submitted for the Idaho quarter! Somehow Idahoans have managed to keep this recipe as their best kept secret. Well, the cat is out of the bag!
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit an Idaho ranch virtually. As part of this program through the Idaho Beef Council, I got a chance to visit with Wyatt and Christie Prescott. The Prescott are ranchers who live in south-central Idaho, and it was fascinating to hear them describe an average day in their lives. Christie pointed out the nearest town was over an hour away…but she can carve a bit of time off the trip by using a secret short cut through the mountains!
During the virtual tour, I not only learned about the importance of the Idaho beef industry, but I also learned about finger steaks…and I can’t wait to share this recipe with you today! There’s a reason why finger steaks are so popular in Idaho!
How to make Idaho Finger Steaks
Idahoans use a wide variety of beef cuts to make finger steaks, but the most common cuts are either top sirloin or cube steak. I used cube steak to make this version, and it worked beautifully! Cube steak, also known as cubed steak, is a cut of beef that is tenderized with a meat tenderizer. The name comes from the shape of the indentions left in the meat after the tenderizing process.
Cube steak is the most common cut of beef for chicken fried steak. As a Southern boy, I grew up eating chicken fried steak – it’s delicious. Finger steaks are similar to chicken fried steak, but they are a finger food…and I personally love finger food!
How to serve Idaho Finger Steaks
Idaho Finger Steaks are often served with French fries, a piece of buttered toast and a cold beer. Talk about comfort food at its best right there! Unlike chicken fried steak which is typically served with gravy, Idaho Finger Steaks are served with a dipping sauce. Christie noted that steak sauce is popular in her house, although Fry Sauce seems to be one of the most popular sauces across the state. (Fry sauce is a tasty combination of mayonnaise and ketchup.)
There’s no right or wrong way to make Idaho Finger Steaks. You can play around with the breading mixture – although I have to say that the saltines used in this version worked very well! I served these finger steaks with a Spicy Cajun Dipping Sauce. This sauce is a riff on fry sauce in that it uses both mayonnaise and ketchup, although the proportions are a bit different. Oh, and there’s a little splash of dill pickle juice in there, too. Don’t skip on the pickle juice – just trust me!
If you’re looking for some mighty tasty comfort food, then try making a batch of Idaho Finger Steaks with a Spicy Cajun Dipping Sauce. Finger steaks are popular all across Idaho, and now they are popular in our house, too! Enjoy!
Did you make a batch of these Idaho Finger Steaks with a Spicy Cajun Dipping Sauce? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
Idaho Finger Steaks
For the Finger Steaks
For the Finger Steaks
- Cut cube steak into strips and season with Cajun seasoning and black pepper.
- Using a large, shallow bowl, add the eggs; whisk until well combined; set aside.
- Using a food processor, add the saltine crackers and pulse until finely ground. Mix garlic salt into the cracker crumbs. Place crumbs in a separate shallow bowl.
- Using a heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, add enough vegetable oil to cover 1½-2” of bottom of pan. Place over medium-high heat and heat to ~350°F. (Note: To test oil temperature, drop a pinch of cracker crumbs into the oil. If it sizzles right away, then the oil is ready.)
- Working with one strip of steak at a time, dip steak into egg mixture and then into the cracker mixture. Place finger steaks in the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and fully cooked. (Note: If necessary, work in batches so you do not crowd the pan.)
- Transfer cooked finger steaks to a plate lined with a brown paper bag or paper towels.
- Serve with Spicy Cajun Dipping Sauce.
For the Spicy Cajun Dipping Sauce
- Using a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk together until well combined. (Tip: This sauce will taste better if you make it earlier in the day and then cover it and refrigerate it for a couple of hours.)
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