1 cup flour
1/2 cup cracker crumbs (about 30 saltines)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup buttermilk
4 (6 oz) cube steaks
4 cups canola oil
3 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2" wide pieces
1 small yellow onion (finely chopped)
2/3 cup button mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt (for gravy)
2 garlic cloves (finely minced or pressed through a garlic press)
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper for gravy
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour for gravy
3 cups whole milk (warmed but not hot)
Whisk the flour, cracker crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a wide, shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk into a wide bowl. Dip each steak into the buttermilk, then dredge it through the dry ingredients, making sure both sides are evenly coated.
Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a medium skillet until crispy, stirring often for 4 - 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a paper towel-lined plat and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until soft and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and the salt and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their juices, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter and let it melt, stirring often. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then slowly begin to add the milk a little at a time, mixing well between additions to avoid lumps. Cook until slightly thickened, 1 - 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally to keep the gravy warm. Just before serving, stir in the reserved bacon.
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet (preferably a cast-iron one) over medium-high heat. Once the oil reaches between 350 and 375 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, reduce the heat to medium and carefully slide the steaks into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until the coating is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel - or brown bag - lined plat to drain. Serve the steak immediately covered with the bacon gravy