Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cut the steak into 4 equal portions.
Put the buttermilk in a medium baking dish and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Combine the 2 1/2 cups of flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chile de arbol and 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and divide it between 2 baking dishes.
Dredge the steak, a few pieces at a time, in the flour mixture and pat off the excess. Dip them in the buttermilk and allow the excess to drain off. Dredge them again in the flour and pat off the excess. Put the chicken pieces on a baking rack set over a baking sheet while the oil heats.
Heat 1-inch of oil in a large cast iron skillet until it reaches 360 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the meat, 2 pieces at a time, and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt, to taste. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Transfer the meat to a rack set on a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while you make the gravy.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet, leaving the crunchy pieces from the breading. Add the bacon and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan and let it cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and continue to cook, whisking occasionally until thickened. Stir in the heavy cream and thyme and season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Serve 1 piece of steak per person ladled with some of the sauce and garnished with a few pieces of bacon. Garnish with thyme sprigs.