How to bread chicken using flour, egg, and breadcrumbs

Pat chicken dry before dredging in flour so it coats evenly.

Breading chicken before frying or baking adds a crunchy outer layer that's an unquestionable crowd pleaser. Luckily, it's easy to get that invigorating crunch and flavor at home, as long as you follow a few basic steps.

Recipe developer, cookbook author, and chemical engineer Jim Mumford of Jim Cooks Food Good walks us through the breading process to ensure you get that extra-crispy crunch from a breading that won't fall off during the cooking process.

Mumford says that successful chicken breading happens in three phases: "Flour, egg, and breadcrumbs." According to Mumford, "the flour absorbs any surface moisture on the chicken. The egg wash binds with the flour, making a sticky coating for the breadcrumbs."

The breadcrumbs you choose are entirely up to you and the texture you're going for. For a thinner coating, use classic grocery store breadcrumbs. For something lighter but with a bit more texture, opt for panko. If you really want to control both the texture and ingredients, homemade breadcrumbs are easy to make.

Quick Tip: As an alternative to breadcrumbs, Mumford suggests using corn flakes, which "are designed to hold up to liquid, so they don't get soggy as quickly, and they maintain their crunch. They're naturally gluten-free and pre-seasoned." To make gluten-free breaded chicken, Mumford uses cornstarch instead of flour.

How to bread chicken
Breaded chicken can be cooked in a variety of ways.
  1. Set up a breading station. For a pound of chicken, combine 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder in a wide bowl. In another wide bowl, whisk three eggs with 2 tablespoons of milk until fully combined. In a third bowl, add 3 cups of breadcrumbs.
  2. Use a paper towel to pat the chicken dry. Any residual moisture on the chicken will prevent the flour from sticking, which will make it harder for the egg to bind. Chicken that has been thoroughly dried before breading will produce the crispiest breaded chicken.
  3. Flour. Dip the chicken into the flour, being careful to coat it evenly and entirely. Gently shake off the excess.
  4. Egg. Dip the flour-coated chicken into the egg mixture and swirl to fully coat. Slowly lift it out of the egg, letting the excess drip off.
  5. Breadcrumbs. Press the egg-coated chicken into the breadcrumbs until all sides are covered. Use a bit of pressure so the breadcrumbs stick.
  6. Chill. Refrigerate the breaded chicken for 15 minutes before cooking. This allows the breading to set, reducing the likelihood of it falling off while cooking.
  7. Cook. You can cook breaded chicken by either baking or frying. If you choose to fry them, let the fried chicken drain on paper towels before serving to absorb excess oil.

Quick tip: Use the "wet hand, dry hand" method the prevent breading from building up on your fingers. Use one hand to handle the chicken during the "dry" steps — flour and breadcrumbs — and the other hand when taking the chicken out of the egg wash.

How to cook breaded chicken
Shallow-frying uses less oil than deep-frying.
  • Bake: To get his baked chicken as crispy and delicious as possible, Mumford likes to bake it on a baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
  • Shallow fry: The "shallow fry" method involves cooking the chicken in a skillet on the stovetop. The skillet should have enough oil in it to cover the first half of the chicken, but not enough to submerge it. To cook breaded chicken via shallow fry, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering, then cook the chicken for four minutes on each side.
  • Deep fry: As the name suggests, deep-frying requires you to fill a pot or skillet with enough oil to fully cover the chicken, then lower the chicken into the hot oil bath to cook. Heat the oil to between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit) and fry for five to 10 minutes.
  • Air fry: Air frying will create a crispy texture using much less oil than deep or shallow frying. All it takes is a light coating of spray oil on each side. Mumford says to air fry for 12 minutes to get the right level of crunch.

Insider's takeaway

Breaded chicken has great flavor and an appealing crunchy texture, and it's surprisingly easy to make. Just pat your tenders dry, roll them in seasoned flour, swish them in beaten egg, and cover them with breadcrumbs, cornflakes, crushed potato chips, pretzel crumbs, or whatever other types of breading you'd like to try. After that, bake them or fry them for a satisfying and crowd-pleasing meal or snack.

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