This process, while optional, is a common
way to prepare foods for pan-frying. If it is done correctly, the finished
item will have an even coating that is extremely crisp, golden and
delicious. Breading needs a little time to firm up before it is pan-fried
for the best possible results. If you bread an item, then immediately put
it into hot oil, there is a good chance that the breading will fall away.
Not only will this have a negative impact on the dish's finished texture,
it will also make the cooking oil break down quickly. Then, subsequent
batches cooked in the same oil will blacken without cooking properly.
Dry the item well, then hold it in one hand
(left hand if you are right-handed, and right hand if you are left-handed)
and dip it in flour. Shake off any excess flour, and transfer the food to
the container of egg wash.
Switch hands, pick up the food and turn it
if necessary to coat it on all sides. Transfer it to the container of
bread crumbs. Use your dry hand to pack bread crumbs evenly around the
food. Shake off any excess, then transfer the food to a holding tray.
Let the food rest under refrigeration for
about 1 hour or longer before continuing on with the pan-frying.
Discard any unused flour, egg wash or bread
The presence of juices, drippings or
particles of the food you just coated will contaminate these products,
making them unsafe for use with other foods. Even sifting the flour or
crumbs or straining the egg wash will not be sufficient to prevent
cross-contamination and eliminate the potential for food poisoning.
Heat oil to correct temperature for food
In general, there should be enough cooking
oil in the pan to allow the food to swim in the oil. As a rule of thumb,
add enough oil so that the oil comes one-quarter to one-half the way up
the sides of the food; the thinner the main item, the less oil is
required. The pan and the cooking oil must reach the correct temperature
before you add the food. Otherwise, the development of the crust will be
slowed, and it may never achieve the desired state. When a faint haze or
slight shimmer is noticeable, the oil is usually hot enough.
Add food to the hot oil and keep oil
and/or food in motion.
Getting all surfaces of pan-fried foods
evenly browned and crisped requires that the food be in direct contact
with the hot oil. If the foods are crowded, then they may not develop good
colors and textures. If there is not enough oil in the pan, the food may
stick to the pan and tear, or the coating may come away. Keep the oil
and/or the pan gently in motion, either by using tongs to gently move the
food around in the pan or by using an easy circular motion to keep the oil
in the pan moving. When pan-frying a large quantity of food in batches,
remember to skim away any loose particles between batches. Add more fresh
oil, or replace all of the oil, to keep the level constant and to prevent
smoking or foaming.
Brown on first side, then turn the food.
Once a good crust and a pleasing color
develops on the first side, turn the food. Continue to cook the food until
a rich golden color develops on the second side. If the food is of the
right size and shape, it will be completely cooked at this point.
Finish in pan or uncovered in oven.
Some foods can be cooked completely in the
pan. Others, because they are thick, include bones, or a stuffing, may
need to finish cooking in the oven. If they do need to go into the oven,
be sure that they are left uncovered to prevent steam from softening the
crisp coating you have developed. Ideally, they should be placed on a
rack. Foods that can finish cooking in the pan over direct heat should be
watched carefully. If they are becoming too brown, turn the heat down.