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Basic Breading Tactics


Fat Guy
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How do you bread pre-marinated foods like buttermilk marinated chicken? The flour/egg/bread mix ends up being way too thick. I usually just put flour only.

Yeah, I'm wondering the same thing. I've got some chicken soaking in coconut milk right now and I'm looking for a good way of frying them up.

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For chicken cutlets and the like, I generally flour (seasoned w/salt & pepper), then egg (lightly beaten, no other liquids), then panko with parmagiano reggiano (or sometimes I just season the Panko w/salt & paper as well).

In my experience, the reason for the flour has little to do with making the breading adhere, but rather to create a moisture barrier between the meat and the breading, which makes for a crispier crust.

To be honest, I do not know why the egg is "lightly beaten". The first few times I saw this recipe, I saw specification that the egg be slightly beaten. I haven't questioned it, so I can't say it's really critical to the process.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Now, any ideas on how to get a nice crunchy coating on a fish fillet in the oven?

For "oven frying", I spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the subject matter (chicken or fish fillet, sliced eggplant, zucchini, etc.) and then give a good dunk in a crumb mixture, let rest for 15 - 30 minutes to allow the mayo and crumbs to adhere and join together, then bake at high heat (450 F with convection if available) for a short period of time, preferably on a raised rack atop a cookie sheet, so the hot air circulates all the way around.

For the crumb mixture, I use lots of different things. For example, crushed cornflakes, rice chex, or other cereals, panko, fresh or dried breadcrumbs, ground nuts, grated parmesan, herbs, etc.

This method works especially well with eggplant, which soaks up so much oil when fried in the ordinary fashion. The "oven fried" eggplant actually tastes like eggplant and not oil.

One might think that mayonnaise is an odd thing to use to adhere the crumb mixture, but mayonnaise is really just eggs + oil, so it actually makes sense. Sometimes, I add ingredients to the mayonnaise such as herbs, mustard or roasted garlic.

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For "oven frying", I spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the subject matter (chicken or fish fillet, sliced eggplant, zucchini, etc.) and then give a good dunk in a crumb mixture, let rest for 15 - 30 minutes to allow the mayo and crumbs to adhere and join together, then bake at high heat (450 F with convection if available) for a short period of time, preferably on a raised rack atop a cookie sheet, so the hot air circulates all the way around.

For the crumb mixture, I use lots of different things.  For example, crushed cornflakes, rice chex, or other cereals, panko, fresh or dried breadcrumbs, ground nuts, grated parmesan, herbs, etc.

This method works especially well with eggplant, which soaks up so much oil when fried in the ordinary fashion.  The "oven fried" eggplant actually tastes like eggplant and not oil.

One might think that mayonnaise is an odd thing to use to adhere the crumb mixture, but mayonnaise is really just eggs + oil, so it actually makes sense.  Sometimes, I add ingredients to the mayonnaise such as herbs, mustard or roasted garlic.

Thank you! Mayonnaise hadn't occurred to me, but it makes sense. I'm thinking that mixing in some fresh dill or lemon zest might be just the ticket for fish.

We have a couple of beautiful eggplants from our CSA. Can't wait to try this. Do you also hit the crumb coating with a dusting of cooking spray before it goes into the oven or is that overkill?

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

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How do you bread pre-marinated foods like buttermilk marinated chicken? The flour/egg/bread mix ends up being way too thick. I usually just put flour only.

This is how I do my fried chicken (like my grandma from Birmingham, AL by way of Welch, WV taught me.) It's a double-dip process, where I soak the chicken pieces in buttermilk (spiked with Tabasco, I should mention) overnight.

After a shake over the sink to get rid of excess buttermilk droplets, I pat each piece in seasoned flour (again, we like spicy fried chicken, so that means a good dose of black & cayenne pepper along with the usual suspects,) and set them on a cake rack until all are coated. Then I take the buttermilk/Tabasco "marinade" (never thought of it as that, oddly enough) and beat in an egg or two (depending on how big a crowd I'm cooking for.) After giving the chicken pieces 10 minutes or so to rest, I then dip them into the egg-augmented buttermilk again, and give them another dredge in the seasoned flour. This time... as lots of folks have suggested... the kit & kaboodle are let to rest for half an hour, before frying in my cast-iron skillet, in a mixture of fats which I am too embarrassed to detail in this forward-thinking community, heated to exactly 325°. My grandma used an electric skillet for her fried chicken by the time I was old enough to notice, but I like my cast iron... I do religiously monitor the temperature, though.

Not sure if this impacts the breading or what, but I also cook on the first side for around 15 minutes, then turn the pieces over and put a lid on the skillet for the first five minutes or so of the second side's cooking period. I've never managed to be able to get the chicken pieces done all the way through by timing or by look, however; I *have* to use a meat thermometer, or else I wind up with undercooked meat!

For the record, this coating/breading/whatever *is* thick... but we think pleasantly so. If all goes well, it's crispy, crunchy, not overly oily, and not gooey in between the breading and the skin/meat. (I use this for chicken tenders, too.) Totally different experience in the mouth, though, than something like panko (which I also love.)

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I like panko and usually use it because it saves a step, but sometimes what I really want is the kind of smoother breading you get by using supermarket white bread, crusts removed, processed to fine crumbs in the food processor. You can, of course, mix this with cheese or ground nuts.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Somewhere on TV in the last week, there was an NYC chef who did his veal by pressing each side of the bare cutlet into a bowl of crumbs, then dipping it in another bowl of beaten egg (I refuse to call it an "egg wash" because the idea is not to wash anything off) and tossing it immediately iinto a hot frying pan. The result certainly looked appetizing. Apparently there's more than one way to do it.

Any hints for baking breaded fish or chicken rather than frying? 

Theoretically this method can result in something tasty & crunchy, but regrettably, that has not been my experience.

pat w.

I've been cooking fish filets & steaks this way for years:

Pre-heat your oven to 400.

Lay the fish out flat - plate, wax paper on countertop, whatever works for you. Drizzle a litttle oil onto each piece; rub the oil around wth your fingers to make sure that the pieces are completely coated. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the fish (I use a tablespoon); again with your fingers, spread the crumbs out and pat them into the fish until you have a thin, even coating. Turn the pieces over and repeat the procedure.

Lay the fish out in your baking pan (or on a rack inside the pan), then put the pan into the hot oven. Thin filets (sole, flounder, turbot) will take about 7-8 minutes. Thicker pieces (halibut, haddock) go about 10 minutes per inch. Your nose & the sounds emanating from the oven can be additional guides to when the fish is done.

I like peanut oil for its neutral flavor. I'm sure that there are other oils which would work equally well. I've never been happy with the result when I've tried this approach with olive oil, though; perhaps it doesn't survive well at 400. Nor have I been able to get chicken or veal to turn out well.

This method produces a truly lightly breaded fish. Of course, you can also sprinkle herbs over the fish with the bread crumbs when the mood strikes.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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  • 3 weeks later...

Following various pieces of advice from this topic, I had a vastly improved breading experience this evening.

I set up three wide, shallow bowls: flour, egg and panko. I added salt and pepper to the flour and egg, nothing to the panko. I dipped each cutlet first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the panko. I laid the breaded cutlets on a half-sheet pan and let them rest in the fridge for about half an hour.

They cooked up beautifully. My only reservation is that I think I need to create or get finer panko -- the crumbs/flakes of the brand I'm using are just too chunky.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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.

They cooked up beautifully. My only reservation is that I think I need to create or get finer panko -- the crumbs/flakes of the brand I'm using are just too chunky.

Just flatten it a bit with your hand or a rolling pin in the bag before you pour it onto the dipping plate.

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  • 8 months later...

So, I've been making breaded chicken breasts in the same way for the last 20 something years. Dredge in flour, dip in egg, into the bread crumbs, and fry. While it produces tasty, juicy chicken, the crust doesn't adhere the way I would like, particularly as it cools I've noticed commercially made chicken doesn't have this problem, nor does it seem like the coating itself is that thick.

So, anyone got any better ideas?

Since this was merged with a good thread, it makes my question somewhat moot.. :smile:

Edited by adegiulio (log)

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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In recent months I've been cooking 'cod fillets', breaded, and deep fried.

This is my first effort at breading and deep frying, but the results seem to be okay.

Basically I just started with the common, broad, cliche of the 'three station, wet-hand, dry-hand' method and adjusted from there.

As I tried, I measured and kept notes. Now I just follow the notes and the measurements.

I season just the first coating, the flour, but I season it heavily.

The fried results are good hot with lemon juice or cold with spicy, red, seafood 'cocktail' sauce. I buy it, but my old family recipe of Heinz Chili sauce fixed up with horseradish and lemon juice is similar.

Ingredients

One package of High Liner Frozen Cod Loins, 3 pounds, from Sam's Club. Pieces are rectangular, 4-5 ounces each.

First Station

In a 2 quart stainless steel bowl with a relatively flat bottom,

1 1/2 C flour

1/4 C Tone's garlic powder from Sam's Club

1/4 C Tone's onion powder from Sam's Club

2 T table salt

1 T freshly ground black pepper (about 150 twists on pepper mill)

2 T Emeril's Essence spice powder

mixed with a cooking spoon.

Second Station

In a rectangular plastic container from Chinese carry-out,

4 USDA Grade A eggs, beaten

Third Station

In a 2 quart stainless steel bowl with a relatively flat bottom,

1 C white corn meal

1 C 4C Seasoned Bread Crumbs

mixed with a cooking spoon.

Equipment

Taylor deep frying thermometer

3 quart classic Farberware pot about 1/2 full of Canola oil heated to 360 F over medium-high heat.

Steps

Defrost Fish

Place a plastic dishpan in sink and fill about 3/4 full of water at about 80 F. Add still closed and sealed bag of frozen fish. Place second dishpan over the fish and fitting into the first dishpan. Fill second dish pan about 1/2 of water at about 80 F.

After about an hour, should change the water to more 80 F water since the frozen fish will have lowered the temperature of the water.

Wait for 2-3 hours for fish to defrost.

From experience, if fish is still slightly frosty, then can proceed with cooking with apparently no ill effects.

Cooking

In the sink, open the top of the bag of fish.

Use a dinner fork to pick up a piece of fish; let defrosting liquid drain; place in flour of first station; toss to thoroughly coat with flour.

Use fork to lift fish; shake off loose flour (which would turn eggs to goo) and place in eggs of second station. Carefully and thoroughly coat piece with egg; care is needed since somehow it is easy for a bubble of air to get between fish and egg and leave an uncoated patch. Be sure to coat ends also.

Use fork to move piece to crumb-corn meal mixture of third station. Thoroughly coat piece and then move to a dinner plate to rest.

Bread a second piece of fish similarly.

When oil temperature is about 360 F, place two pieces of fish in oil, set timer for 3 minutes, watch to be sure oil does not boil over and start a fire, and at the end of three minutes move cooked fish to towels to absorb excess oil.

Continue until all the fish is cooked.

Serve hot with lemon juice or cold with spicy, seafood, 'cocktail' sauce.

Breading is spicy, crunchy, and dark and does stick to the fish.

This recipe appears to be 'robust', that is, can accept many changes with few or no ill effects. E.g., sometimes I use 2 T of Tone's Cajun seasoning instead of Emeril's.

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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  • 1 month later...
Following various pieces of advice from this topic, I had a vastly improved breading experience this evening.

I set up three wide, shallow bowls: flour, egg and panko. I added salt and pepper to the flour and egg, nothing to the panko. I dipped each cutlet first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the panko. I laid the breaded cutlets on a half-sheet pan and let them rest in the fridge for about half an hour.

They cooked up beautifully. My only reservation is that I think I need to create or get finer panko -- the crumbs/flakes of the brand I'm using are just too chunky.

Hi. I have been reading here a long time but this is my 1st post. Being born Southern, loving everything fried with a crust, I felt compelled to contribute.

I just discovered Panko crumbs about a year ago. And I love them for certain things. But.....for a 'light' fry of chicken, cutlets etc I think you need much finer crumbs. The Progresso flavored crumbs are great. I will take chicken pieces and if they are too thick I will slice them thinner. Most often anymore, I will soak in buttermilk for a few hours, drain, and then dredge in seasoned crumbs before frying / sauteeing. After everything is brown I will put them in the oven on absorbent paper (never piling them on each other) to stay warm and crispy. Especially with chicken using the Italian seasoned crumbs fresh lemon juice squeezed over the cooked pieces right before serving is really good.

For a heavier chicken dish, such as Chicken Kiev, I will do the whole seasoned flour, egg wash, seasoned crumbs, rest in fridge for an hour or so then fry in deep fat scenario....which would never happen on a family dinner night!! Too much time.

I really enjoy reading all the posts.

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Breading is a very simple procedure that follows a basic guideline of dry wet dry rest.

For a basic breading you will typically do flour, egg wash, crumb of some sort.

Flour is used first because it is the base you will build on and because it is very fine and has a lot of starch binds well with the moisture of the meat or veg you are coating.

Next is the egg wash. We do this next because while there is moisture on the food there just isn't enough to hold the crumb, and the proteins in the egg really help hold everything together. Why the flour first? Again, it is your base and glue that helps hold everything to the actual item being fried. Egg will stick to the meat, but does so much better with the flour.

Next is your crumb this can be anything from fresh to toasted, pre made, or crushed cereals. Basically some form of cooked starch that will get nice and crunchy.

Personally all of my seasoning goes into the egg mixture. The flour I don't season as a personal preference I think the egg holds it better. I never season my crumbs because the seasoning then can burn much easier.

Then just let rest for a few minute to bind everything together and set.

Some variations are-

Mix the flour and bread crumbs (works well with bread crumbs of most sorts, not so much with crushed cereals). This saves a dish and gives you a thicker breading. Just dip in flour/crumb mixture, egg, flour/crumb mixture again. We always did it this way growing up and it worked just fine.

You can also replace the flour with pancake mix, gives very nice flavor just get one that doesn't produce something to terribly sweet (one more reason to make your own pre-measured mix). Great for shrimp and works surprisingly well with veal cutlets. Also creates a bit different texture then flour due to the sugars and leavenings.

If you want a really light, relatively thin, crispy coating use egg whites only and no crumb. Just do flour, egg white, flour. Really nice light and crispy, great on mushrooms or chicken fingers. Do a chicken breast this way and top with cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and more cheese, makes a great meal.

Edited by Lupinus (log)
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