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Many recipes (e.g. orange chicken) call for the chicken to be coated in flour, the beaten egg (whole, whole with a dash of milk or just the whites), coated again with flour and then deep fried. The flour can be plain flour, plain flour with cornstarch, cornstarch and potato starch etc.

I've had excellent results just coating the chicken with seasoned flour (or a flour mixture) and then deep frying after leaving it to air dry for 15 minutes. I have never had any problems with the flour coating coming off while it is cooking. Is this because the chicken breasts I use are particularly "wet" due to the water injected during processing or am I just fortunate that my chicken has not come out particularly dry inside?

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    Try it the other way for experimental purposes, and then stick with what you like...whichever it may be.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 18:43
  • @Ecnerwal I keep meaning to do this but as the coating passes the fork test I never seem to get around to it!
    – Greybeard
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 0:08
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    If you're happy with what you do, then you don't ned to worry about what other people do. I've been making my own "hash brown patties" or "potato pancakes" lately. Every recipe I look at uses egg, and many use flour as well. Presumably as binders. I get results that hold together and taste good with grated potato (and some onion, as a flavor component) and no egg or flour. Since I'm happy with the results, I don't worry too much about why everyone who writes a recipe seems to think at least one of those things is essential. ;^) If you wonder, one experiment is worth doing, but if not...
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 1:30

1 Answer 1

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The added egg serves 2 purposes:

  1. The albumins form a protein mesh suspending the starch components that also crispens with the starch as they dehydrate along the exterior,
  2. The water content generates more steam than the coated food alone, directly at the dredged surface area, that helps expand and puff the above starch and protein mesh.

Eggs when implemented correctly will usually contribute a finished texture with more volume than a dry flour/crumb dredge alone.

The finished texture and moisture of the breast meat is almost entirely dependent on the highest internal temperature achieved during frying and the temperature at which it is served.
Dry dredges may provide an earlier visual indicator of doneness for home chefs since they tend to brown and burn faster than more hydrated or egg supplemented batters.

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