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Help with chicken

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So this could be one of the dumbest questions ever asked but I need help.. I cook frequently and love to do it. I am interested in culinary school and know quite a bit about cooking.. I guess I want to give a little back ground because I feel like this questions is going to make me look very inexperienced..
I have a few recipes for breaded chicken. Where you pound the chicken then dredge in flour, then egg, than a panko and parmesan mixture. I CANNOT for the life of me get this chicken to turn out right. Maybe this is not the right forum for me to be using but I am wondering if anyone has any advice. Everytime I make this #1.. the breading sticks to the pan so when I flip it it looses all it's breading and #2.. the chicken soaks up ALL the oil in the pan so after I flip even if the breading DOES stick to the first side, the second side just burns. I have tried using more oil.. turning the heat up.. turning the heat down and I have never got them to turn our perfect. I use stainless steel All-Clad pans and I have a glass top stove. (Which I HATE!) Any advice?
post #2 of 13
Welcome to the forum. Don't feel bad, I feel exactly the same way! I've given up on breading and scrorching meat in my kitchen, and leave it to the professionals at restaurants. Instead I do only a light dredge in seasoned flour, and fry in a non-stick pan. Don't worry, you'll get good advice in later posts.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #3 of 13
First, we don't believe that any questions you might ask here are dumb. (Well, maybe some . . . but not this! :lol:) And you have definitely come to the right place.

Sounds to me like you're not letting the pan and oil get hot enough before you put in the chicken. And that you might be trying to turn it too soon.

You don't have to use high heat -- medium-high should be enough -- but you need to wait until the oil in the pan is very shimmery. Then you carefully place the chicken pieces in the pan and leave them alone for a while. You'll know when it's time to turn them: you shake the pan a little and they slide around. If they don't release and move on their own, you shouldn't try to move them against their will. (Betcha didn't know chicken cutlets had minds of their own. All pan-fried foods do!) Flip them over and again let them sit until they move when you jiggle the pan. If they don't seem fully cooked by the time they have the right color, turn down the heat and cook them longer, or put the pan in the oven to finish cooking.

If they start to burn, I guess with that glass cooktop you'll have to move them off the heat for a bit and turn down the control, then put the pan back after the element has cooled down a little. (Since I have a regular gas stove, I'm guessing about this. But someone else here is sure to know.)

A couple of other hints: if you have time after you coat the chicken pieces, lay them out on a wire rack to dry a bit. That can help keep the coating on. And using a lot of oil won't help, it will just use up your bottle of oil faster. You really only need a thin coating of oil on the pan, so the entire bottom is covered.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 13
When the oil is hot but not smoking then place the chicken in the pan , spaced,
I usually wait till I think the chicken is browned then I flip, cook for one minute and continue the process of one minute each side till the chicken is cooked through. It gives an even heat on both sides without burning .......a thought.

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #5 of 13
I agree with both of the above posts, your pan and oil are not hot enough.
post #6 of 13
Dont use panko crumbs use regular crumbs(less absorption)
Oil temp is not right on , when you put drop of water and oil sizzles it is ready to fry not before. Dont put to many cutlets in at once as this will drop oil temp and things will stick
Cheese melts therefore sticks to pan.
Try a teflon coated pan
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #7 of 13
When you flour the chicken, only use enough for a dusting. Anthing extra will be too much. The idea is for just enough flour to hold onto the chicken and the egg, and for the egg to hold onto the breadcrumbs. So it all bonds together nicely. As suggested in another post, let the breaded pieces rest for a while before introducing them to the hot oil. Brown completely on the first side, then turn them over. Lots of cooks like to fiddle around with the meat, checking it, turning it, patting it (EEEK), etc. But you'll have better results if you just put it into the perfectly heated oil, don't crowd the pieces, and just leave them alone. You'll be able to both see and smell when they are ready to turn.
Let us know how your next ones turn out.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #8 of 13
All the suggestions above are exactly correct.
I'd bread the chicken and roast it in the oven on a rack until done.
This way, you avoid the fat, cook both sides at once, and use a softer cooking process than the intensity of the saute pan which can be unforgiving.

Otherwise, for basic saute method:
1) Get pan hot. You tell it's hot by sprinkling water from your hand onto the pan. When the water evaporates immediately, you know the pan is at least 212f. Since proteins coagulate (stiffen and shrink) at 165f, you know the pan is hot enough to cook something.
2) Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Perhaps a Tablespoon or two. The oil is a conductor of heat, not a flavoring agent. Heat the oil until it goes from being perfectly smooth to beginning a convection process. The oil will begin to move in the pan, and get ripples. It looks like the 'legs' on your wine glass when you swish the wine around. The oil starting to move is a sign that it's just about to smoke. Now's the time to add your protein product.
3) Cook 75% one side, 25% the other side so you can observe the changes.
4) The ONLY way to tell when something is done is with a thermometer. When you chicken is 155F internal, it's done. Please, no gashing with knives to tell if it's done.

Once you perfect this procedure, then try it with steak or shrimp. Cooking with basic cooking methods empowers you over written recipes and allows you to cook with your ingredients and creativity.

If you'd like to learn more about basic methods, go to my website - WebCookingClasses.com.
post #9 of 13
This is going to end up reiteratig a lot of advice, and disagreeing with some. That advice it does disagree with, is not so much wrong as pointed towards doing something other than what you're trying to do.

What with the flattening, and the three stage breading, we can safely assume you're trying to cook your chicken "schnitzel" style (not that it doesn't have a variety of other names). In any case, the breading technique is "flour, egg, crumb" which is substantially the same as it's kissing cousin, "flour, egg, flour." The underlying pan technique is "pan frying."

Pan frying is not searing or sauteeing, and unfortunately, the distinction hasn't always been observed through this thread. It started to get confusing, and that's largely why I decided to jump in.

There are nine most likely reasons the crust might be as fragile, and as prone to come off as you describe
.

1. You're chicken is too wet. When people talk about a flour - egg - flour or flour - egg - crumb breading they talk about how the first flouring is meant to prepare the surface for the second; but not what it's actually doing.

Ideally, the flour absorbs excess surface mixture so the egg wash is the only moisture under the final breading. However, if there's too much moisture on the surface of the chicken breast (or thigh), it will overwhelm the flour.

So, before and/or after flattening, dry the chicken with a paper towel.

2. Too much or too little first-coat flour. Don't dust, dredge; don't dredge heavily; and shake off any excess flour before sending the flour to the egg.

3. Your egg wash is too dilute. This isn't a common problem, and you can actually use a fairly thin wash; but just in case, we might as well go through it. If you're diluting your egg wash (and most people don't) with milk, juice or some other liquid flavoring, don't use too much. Water, is unnecessary unless you only have one egg in the house, no other liquid, and you're trying to make that egg work like two.

Hot sauce is a wonderful thing. But presumably your sense of self-preservation will limit your use long before over-dilution becomes a problem.

DO season your egg wash.

4. You're dredging wrong and the breading is not adhering to the chicken as a result.

Don't use tongs or a fork to dredge. Use the "dry hand, wet hand" method, instead. Tongs work for some people, but it's tricky. Forget them for now.

(a) Use your "dry hand" (left or right) to take the chicken to the flour, and from the flour to the egg. Don't let it get wet when you put the chicken into the egg.

(b) Use your wet hand (the other one) to turn the chicken in the egg, making sure it's well coated on both sides. Use your wet hand to lift your chicken from the egg wasy to the bread crumbs.

(c) Continue using your wet hand to turn the chicken in the crumbs, making sure it's coated on both sides. If you need to lift some crumbs over the top of the chicken piece, use your dry hand.

(d) Use your dry hand to lift the chicken to a rack. If you don't have a tightly spaced rack, you may have to use a baking sheet.

Note: If you use your wet hand to lift the chicken into the flour to begin with, the flour will not adhere to the wet spot. If you use your wet hand to lift the chicken from the breading, you will strip the breading where your wet fingers touch it.

5. There's excess breading and/or you're not letting your chicken rest after breading and before cooking. Both of these result in a too heavy, too fragile breading that wants to pull away from the chicken as and after it's cooked.

After you've got the chicken on the rack, wash your hands and dry them thoroughly. Use one of your clean, dry hands to pick up the chicken and shake the excess off. Replace it on the rack and let it rest. If you don't have a rack, you'll have to use two pans.

Allow the chicken to rest before cooking for at least seven minutes after breading. If you like, you can let it rest substantially longer. If you want to or must go for more than 30 minutes, put the chicken in a clean pan, cover it loosely with foil or cling, and hold it in the refrigerator. You may hold as long as overnight.

6. Your not properly heating the pan and/or oil. Already well covered, but what the heck.

First preheat the pan over medium-high heat. When it's hot, usually a matter of two or three minutes, add the oil. Wait until the oil is hot before adding the chicken.

The "shimmer" test works very well. If you're not confident with that, tear a little piece off a slice of fread and put it in the oil as a "tester." If it sizzles and browns quickly, voila! If it does not, you need to either raise the flame, or give it some more time -- probably the second. If the bread smokes and blackens, the oil is too hot and the fire should be reduced.

If the oil becomes too hot and smokes heavily, it is ruined and should be replaced. Not only that, the overheated oil will stick tenaciously to the pan, which should be cleaned before reusing. Overheated oil not only tastes bad, it's quite unhealthy. Just get rid of it.

7. You're using too much or too little oil to pan fry.

If you were sauteeing or searing you'd add very little oil ala Chef Todd's post, but you're not.

You're pan frying. The exact right amount of oil is enough to come almost but not quite half way up the side of the food to be fried. The exact right amount of oil is enough to come almost but not quite half way up the side of the food to be fried.

Nobody gets the "exact right amount of oil" everytime. Do your best and remember, better a little too much than too little. If you're a little short, you can add a little more during the process, but better to add between batches.

8. You're overcrowding the pan. Don't. In addition to playing hob with temperature control. The uncooked breading from one piece will break the adhesion from the breading on another. And vice versa.

9. You're handling the chicken too roughly in the pan, and as you lift it out. Use an appropriate spatula or tongs.

The half melted, plastic spatula that came with your George Foremean grill is not appropriate. Get a good, metal spatula -- preferably a "fish turner" -- everyone should have at least one good spatula.

Pros don't have any trouble using spaghetti tongs for anything, but when you use them they probably rip up everything they touch. They're cheap, but they are not your friend. Seek out something gentler, like wood tongs, tongs with silicone coated tips or, the Westmark "spatula" tongs. The Westmarks are awesome.

Some other thoughts:

You may absolutely use panko. A panko coating is a little more delicate than a dried or stale crumb coating, but so what? The Japanese use panko for making exactly what you're making and so do I. Why not you?

Season everything: Season the chicken, the flour, the egg, and (if possible) the crumbs. Slightly underseason the chicken. Use enough salt and pepper and paprika (if using) so that the flour appears "dirty." Undersalt the egg, but by all means use hot sauce. Breadcrumbs don't season particularly well in the nominal sense of "seasoning;" but do add some fresh herbs and perhaps a bit of dry, grated cheese (cotija, parmesan, etc.) too. Keep your eye on the totality of salt so as not to oversalt, but remember that underseasoning is a far more common fault than overdoing it. Waiting to salt until the food gets to the table makes for a poor dish. On the other hand, seasoning in layers makes even simple seasoning taste "right."

Hope this helps,
BDL
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
You guys rock! I can see I will be using the website quite frequently! :) I will try this advice the next time I make the chicken.

Thanks again! Happy Holidays!
post #11 of 13
CP-

re the glass-top stove... I have one, too.
which I HATE! (didn't somebody just say that?) :rolleyes:

Anyway, the ONLY way to reduce the heat on a glass-top burner (in less than 45 minutes or so) is to move your pan to another, cold burner and start that one up afresh toward the lower heat level that you need.

Aren't they wonderful!!?

The only way I can replace mine is to replace almost 6 feet of granite countertop and also also rebuild the custom cabinets underneath the cooktop, which were specifically designed to fit the glass-top.

*blech*

Yours in misery,

Mike

Merry Christmas, anyway :peace:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #12 of 13
Actually, schnitzel is meant to have the crust separate from the meat -- although not during cooking. Yes, I was surprised to learn that, but realized that the schnitzels I've had at Chef Kurt Gutenbrenner's restaurants all shared that characteristic.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Yes! I hate my stove. However I don't forsee a new one anytime soon. I suppose I'll have to learn to adjust to what I have for now :( Ours is an older one too so I'm sure that doesn't make matters any better. We talked to someone at an appliance store that said the new ones are actually sometimes better then gas.. I am not sure I will believe this one! :)
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