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I usually toss the flour and chicken in a bag and shake it up. The problem is that pieces of chicken will often stick together and not get evenly coated. Is there an effective way to bread my chicken evenly without getting clumps of chicken?

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related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/30113/67 –  Joe Feb 3 '13 at 19:49

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

One piece at a time? Into the bag, shake to coat, out of the bag, shake to remove excess flour, put aside for subsequent egg-washing and breading once all pieces are done.

Also helps to have one hand only touching dry ingredients, the other only wet.

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I dump the chicken in a large plastic container and (as ferronrsmith) sieve the flour on top of the chicken. Then, I put the lid on and give it a good shake.

It helps if the chicken is dry. (Dried with paper towels after washing.)

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Another meat-washer! Why?! –  ElendilTheTall Feb 3 '13 at 15:48
    
@ElendilTheTall, excellent question! I do it to get rid of excess blood, basically. –  BaffledCook Feb 3 '13 at 17:22

I don't use the bag method to bread chicken, or other foods. I prefer the slightly more manual, but very effective traditional method:

  • Put the breading mix (for example, seasoned flour) into a shallow dish, such as a pie plate or a shallow casserole
  • Place one or several (as many as comfortably fit) pieces of chicken into the breading mix, then turn them over and place back down. You might need to do the sides too, for large pieces. You can pick up some mix with your fingers and put it onto any uncovered spots, too.
  • When you remove the chicken, shake it slightly above the mix to let extra come off and be reusable.

This method is also extensible to more complicate breading techniques such as flour, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs. You simply have three pie plates, one for each layer in the breading, and move the foods through the layers.

If you are doing this sort of dry/wet/dry breading, it helps to use one hand only for the dry stages, and the other hand (or tongs) for the wet stage.

In comparison to the bag method, this technique has the following advantages:

  • You can directly control and monitor the breading on each piece of food
  • No reasonable way for the pieces to stick together during the breading process
  • It scales up to any amount of food easily in an assembly line
  • You can do multiple layers, including wet layers, conveniently
  • There is no danger of a bag splitting and and getting flour all over the kitchen

... and the following disadvantages:

  • For the small quantities of food, it may be a little more work
  • The pie plates have to be washed, whereas the bag can probably be discarded
  • Your hand(s) get mucky unless you use tongs at every stage

Note: this answer assumes small quantities, as in home cooking. Restaurant production also uses this method, but scaled up in a couple of ways. I have never heard of nor seen a commercial kitchen use the bag method. Now, at industrial scales, they have some cool devices.... :-)

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You can use a sieve :). That's what I always do and it is always evenly coated with flour. The bag create lumps, try to avoid that if you can. try sifting the flour also :)

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It might be helpful to the OP if you were a little more specific about what using a sieve means - I can think of variations people might try. –  Jefromi Mar 20 '12 at 7:16
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I am puzzled by your last sentence... do you also sift the chicken? :D –  nico Mar 20 '12 at 7:45
    
Sifting is the process of using a sieve to remove lumps and to filter large particles. An example of the sifting process is here : mayblerose.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/… –  ferronrsmith Mar 20 '12 at 7:53
    
"sift the flour" was already reasonably clear, though not to everyone - but "use a sieve" definitely still isn't. –  Jefromi Mar 20 '12 at 22:53
    
So basically you'd place the flour in the sieve and as u sift the flour with the chicken under the coat of flour will be added. Keep repeating this process until you have covered the entire chicken. If you want to apply other bases (like oats, makes some egg batter the dip it, then dip it in bowl of oats... i like that) –  ferronrsmith Mar 21 '12 at 5:55

If you're going to use the bag method, you may want to use a clear plastic bag, and only drop in between 1 and 3 items at a time (exact number depends on the size of the items relative to the size of the bag).

If you do end up getting two items stuck together, just grab one of the items through the bag, and shake until the other item falls away.

If you're still having problems, set up a regular breading station

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It helps to sift the flour. I use a colander for breading. I just did this with pickles and then again with chunks of chicken and it works great, just make sure there is a pan under the colander when you are breading. Put whatever you are breading in plastic bag first, shake it up, don't use a lot of flour, dump into the colander, shake it up and bam, no mess no fuss.

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The OP specifically said the problem is in coating the chicken in the bag, not afterward. –  lemontwist Feb 2 '13 at 23:39
    
I've edited your answer to remove the things that were meant to be comments on ferronrsmith's answer (rude ones, too). Also, at least in the US, colanders are usually a bowl with decent-sized holes in it while sieves are metal mesh, and generally finer. –  Jefromi Feb 3 '13 at 0:49

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