Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: We're showing you the basics of breading -- without the mess.
Remember your last bite of perfect, fried chicken? A crunchy, slightly salty crust delicately cracks between your teeth, yielding a warm, flavorful and tender interior. This is the glory of breaded foods.
Knowing how to prepare breading can be the ace up your sleeve for making great party snacks and classic favorites alike. And while it's called breading, it doesn't always preclude bread crumbs. You can use cornmeal, flour, cracker crumbs, and even cereal crumbs. It's easier than it seems, and it doesn't have to turn your kitchen into a disaster area. The key lies in the organization, and the trick is in keeping your hands clean. We'll show you how by breading fontina cheese.
To start, you'll need to have bread crumbs ready. For this recipe, we're grinding up buttery croissant crumbs.
For your breading station, have each of your components ready in separate dishes: the flour (for dredging), the egg wash (whisked eggs and milk), the bread crumbs (with a little salt), and whatever you're frying up.
Now the trick to keep you clean: use your dominant hand for the wet ingredients (egg wash), and your other hand for the dry ones (flour and bread crumbs). This way, you'll bread the food, not your fingertips. We'll explain in the steps below.
First, dredge the cheese in flour with your dry hand coating it entirely (even those little nooks!) and shake off the excess. The flour ensures that the eggs adhere to the cheese. Wet eggs will not hold to slick or wet surfaces, but they will stick to flour.
Next, dunk it into the wash with your dominant, soon-to-be-wet, hand and let it soak for a couple of seconds so that the flour absorbs the egg wash. If the wash runs off, dunk again.
Now, still with your dominant hand, drop the cheese into the bread crumbs, and use your dry hand to pile on the crumbs and pat them down to coat it.
For a double-dipping, like this recipe calls for, lift the cheese out, hand it off to your wet hand, and place it back into the egg wash. Drain with your wet hand, and coat with bread crumbs again with your dry hand.
And voila, you're ready for the frying pan!