Cooking by Breading

Cooking by Breading

Crisp coatings help keep delicate foods such as fish fillets and chicken cutlets moist while they cook. Two elements are essential: something dry for the coating and something wet to hold the coating in place. The dry element could be bread or cracker crumbs, flour, cornmeal, crushed nuts, dried herbs, or dried cheese. The wet mixture should be some form of fluid protein, such as beaten egg or egg white, buttermilk, thinned plain yogurt or a creamy salad dressing.

To help breaded foods brown evenly, pat the food dry before breading to prevent trapped moisture from steaming and blistering the coating. Before adding a coat of crumbs, roll the food in flour or cornstarch and then in the wet mixture. You can always add 1 tablespoon of water or milk to the wet mixture to keep breading from becoming too thick. For a richer, more tender crust, add 1 tablespoon oil.

The lightest crust could be achieved by using finely ground fresh bread crumbs and for a crisp and study crust, use a meal coating such as cornmeal or finely ground cracker crumbs. Seasonings could be distributed evenly in a breading if added to the wet mixture. To help breading adhere better to food, let the coated food sit on a rack for 15 minutes before cooking.

If you need to save time, you can bread ahead of time. Coat the food well, then cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours.

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