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Food: Pan-Fried Chicken Throw Down

January 26, 2011

The Challenge:
Cooking chicken is not my strong point, but I’ve been craving a crunchy, juicy cutlet lately, so I decided to tackle this obstacle and make pan-fried chicken my own.  There are plenty of options for pan-frying, and chicken is on sale this week, so I decided to do a taste comparison – a self “throw down” if you will – with the basic components of most recipes:

Olive Oil v. Butter            Bread Crumbs v. Flour                Milk v. Egg

The Rules:
-I used the same pan the whole way through, I even cleaned out the pan and let it cool between each piece.
-I used chicken breasts that were (relatively) the same size.
-I seasoned each piece of chicken with salt and pepper, and cooked each piece separately.
-I used whole milk, unsalted butter, generic olive oil, brown organic eggs, and pre-seasoned italian bread crumbs.
-Each piece of chicken was dunked once on each side in either the milk or egg, then well-coated in either the flour or bread crumbs.

The Competitors:
1. Chicken with Egg, Flour, and Oil: Not crunchy. This type of coating is tasty in chicken dishes that are eventually baked, but it wasn’t what I was looking for in a pan-fry. Once I realized the flour wasn’t going to give me the crunch I wanted, I abandoned flour altogether. I’m that crazy.

2. Chicken with Milk, Bread Crumbs, and Oil: This was good, but I wasn’t crazy about the taste that the oil left on the chicken. Maybe I should have used a different type of oil, but I don’t have a bunch of different oils around, and I’m not going to start stocking up just for the occasional piece of chicken. My kitchen is too small for an oil collection, and what am I, a grocery store?

the winner!

3. Chicken with Egg, Bread Crumbs, and Butter:  I immediately liked the butter better as a cooking vehicle, though I found I had to use quite a bit of it. However, I wasn’t sure about the egg- it made the bread crumbs taste a little too breakfast-like.

4. Chicken with Milk, Bread Crumbs, and Butter: I liked this from the start. The milk gave just enough moisture to the chicken, without adding unnecessary flavor. The butter sealed everything up and gave the bread crumbs a nice crunch.

from left to right: 1- 4, losers - winner

The Winner:
My personal favorite was #4: Chicken with Milk, Bread Crumbs, and Butter.  And now that I’ve cooked all of this chicken, I could really use a steak.

Voila.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom's BFF permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:22 am

    Belated Happy Birthday Kate! A comment from an Italian Mom on the chicken-I use egg, but dilute it with water and add your favorite Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. You must use light olive oil for the frying. I slice cutlets from the breasts, pound them (not too thin) using parchment paper or butcher paper and freeze until ready to thaw and use. I use Progresso Italian bread crumbs with some grated cheese added. Cook until golden brown. Drain well on paper towels. Enjoy! Great for chicken parm too!

    • bestthingslicedbread permalink*
      February 2, 2011 7:03 pm

      Thanks! Great tips!

  2. Mom's BFF permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:27 am

    Sorry, I sent you the wrong email address.

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