Archive for flour

Questions about Breading Chicken

Posted in General food knowledge, How To's with tags , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2008 by restaurantouring

This question comes from my good friend Catie:

“What purpose does coating chicken in flour before the egg/flour-breadcrumbs serve [in fried chicken]? The egg never seems to stick to the [first coat of] flour, so I never do it. [I just do] egg/flour-bc (breadcrumbs).”

The reality is that the egg never really sticks to the chicken. I mean, raw chicken is wet and kinda slimy-feeling. Raw egg is the same way. When those two things meet, the egg just kinda sloshes around and eventually slides off of the chicken.

Egg sticks to an extremely thin layer of flour. The reason why it seems like the egg doesn’t stick to the flour is because there’s too much flour on your chicken. When dredging chicken in flour, it’s important to apply a very light coat and to vigourously shake off as much excess flour as possible. By ensuring that the chicken is as lightly, but completely, covered in a thin layer of flour as possible, you then ensure that as much egg can stick to as much surface of the chicken as possible.

The purpose of the egg is twofold: 1) it provides a sort of glue for the breadcrumbs to stick to, and 2) it provides moisture and protection for when you’re going to fry it. Foods that are frying have that characteristic, almost violent, bubbling because proper frying results in near-instantaneous boiling of water inside the target food. The water inside boils to create steam which tries to rush out of the food. This is good because it provides pressure against the oil which is trying to soak into your food. If your oil isn’t hot enough when you’re frying, the water inside the food won’t boil fast enough. Or, if you fry for too long and the food runs out of steam (literally), oil will soak into your food, which results in shamelessly greasy food. Since egg is made up of mostly water, the egg coating protects our food from getting too dry when it fries.

Finally, there is the breading. This is partially for protecting the chicken from the violently hot oil, but it is mostly there for texture and flavor. The breading (among other obvious things, such as seasoning) is what sets one piece of fried chicken apart from another one from a different recipe. For example, chicken coated in plain breadcrumbs can be very different from chicken coated in herbed, flavored breadcrumbs. These both can be very different from chicken coated in panko (Japanese style breadcrumbs, valued for their size and texture), crushed potato chips (whoo, trash cuisine!), or even crushed corn flakes (the breakfast cereal). Try different coatings and combinations and see which you like best!.