Fried Chicken >Does fried chicken need an egg wash

Does Fried Chicken Need an Egg Wash?

Fried chicken is a beloved comfort food enjoyed by people across the globe. When properly prepared, it boasts a crispy, crunchy exterior enveloping juicy, tender meat. But achieving that ideal balance of crust and interior requires proper technique – and one of the most hotly debated steps is whether or not to use an egg wash.

Does Fried Chicken Need an Egg Wash?

The short answer is no – an egg wash is not an absolute must for fried chicken. However, using an egg wash does provide some benefits that many cooks and recipes utilize.An egg wash refers to brushing or dipping chicken pieces in beaten egg before dredging them in flour or breadcrumbs to fry. The purpose is to help the coating adhere evenly and form a crispy seal around the juicy meat.

The proteins in eggs promote adhesion and browning through maillard reactions at high fry temperatures. This is why egg-washed fried chicken often has a crisper, crunchier crust that is deeply golden brown. The egg also seals in natural juices and adds richness to balance the crisp exterior.

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However, properly formulated batters and well-seasoned flour dredges may already contain enough binding and crisping agents to create a crunchy crust and lock in moisture. Allowing breaded chicken to rest before frying also enables coatings to hydrate and affix themselves to the meat.

So while an egg wash can be beneficial, especially for novice fryers, to get the ideal crust and texture, it is possible to make delicious fried chicken without one. Many accomplished cooks fry chicken straight from buttermilk or other dairy marinades into the breading with great success.

In the end, whether to egg wash comes down to personal preference, recipe, and frying technique. It’s worth experimenting both with and without egg to determine your ideal method for achieving perfectly crispy, juicy homemade fried chicken.

What is an Egg Wash?

An egg wash is a mixture of egg beaten with a small amount of liquid, usually milk or water. It is brushed or dipped onto foods like fried chicken prior to breading in order to help the coating adhere. The proteins in the egg bind the breading to the food.

Why Use an Egg Wash on Fried Chicken?

Proponents of egg washing fried chicken cite several benefits:

    • Promotes Adhesion – The egg proteins act as a “glue” to hold the coating on securely. This prevents the breading from falling off during frying or eating.
    • Enhances Browning – Egg promotes maillard browning, resulting in a deep golden crust. The sugars and proteins in the egg undergo complex reactions at high heat.
    • Adds Richness – The egg adds fat, moisture and rich flavor to the coating. This balances the crispy texture.
    • Seals in Juices – The egg layer helps seal in natural juices, keeping the chicken tender and moist.
    • Improves Coverage – Egg gets into nooks and crannies, allowing the coating to adhere evenly.

So for proponents of egg washing, the minimal extra effort pays off in terms of appearance, texture and flavor.

What About Frying Chicken Without Egg Wash?

However, some accomplished cooks maintain egg washing is an unnecessary step:

    1. Some moist batters and seasoned flours already contain sufficient binding agents to help crust stick. An egg wash provides negligible added benefit.
    2. Letting chicken soak in buttermilk or seasoned dairy before breading provides ample coating adhesion.
    3. Allowing sufficient rest time after breading enables the coating to hydrate and affix itself to the meat. No egg wash required.
    4. Egg wash risks over-adherence of the coating, resulting in too thick of a crust with compromised interior moisture.

So for those who skip the egg wash, proper technique and the right recipes still yield supremely crispy, juicy fried chicken.

The Verdict?

Ultimately, whether to egg wash fried chicken comes down to personal preference and the specifics of your recipe. Many cooks consider it an indispensable step for achieving the ideal balance of crunch and juice. Others find it needlessly fussy.

If opting to egg wash, use a ratio of 1 large egg per 1-2 cups of buttermilk or water. Gently apply to all surfaces, allow excess to drip off, then bread and fry. Be careful not to over-egg as too much liquid will steam the crust rather than crisp it.

Experiment with and without the egg wash to determine which provides your ideal texture. Master chefs excel at fried chicken regardless of their philosophy on egg washing, so choose the method that works for you and enjoy this crispy treat!

FAQs
Does egg wash help with fried chicken?

Yes, egg wash can help improve the texture and flavor of fried chicken. Brushing chicken pieces with egg before dredging in flour or breadcrumbs promotes adhesion of the coating. The proteins in the egg bind the crust securely so it doesn’t fall off during frying or eating.

This allows for very crispy, craggy exteriors. The egg also enhances browning through maillard reactions, seals in juices, and adds richness to balance the crust. For many cooks and recipes, egg wash takes fried chicken to the next level in terms of ideal crunch and moisture.

Why do you egg wash fried chicken?

The main reason to egg wash fried chicken is to help the breading or batter adhere evenly and strongly. The proteins in egg bind the coating to the meat, acting as a “glue” so the crust stays on despite the intense heat and moisture of frying. This allows for a very crunchy, crispy exterior that also seals in juices.

Egg washing also promotes ideal browning through maillard reactions as well as adding a layer of fat and flavor. For many cooks, the minimal extra step of egg washing is worth it for achieving that perfect crispy crust.

Can you fry without egg wash?

Absolutely, it is completely possible to fry chicken without using an egg wash. Well-formulated batters or heavily seasoned flour dredges may already contain enough binders and crisping agents to create a crunchy crust. Allowing breaded chicken to rest before frying also enables the coating to hydrate and affix to the meat.

If your recipe and technique already yield your ideal texture, egg wash may be an unnecessary extra step. Many accomplished cooks successfully fry chicken straight from buttermilk or other marinades without egg washing.

Do you need to coat chicken in egg before frying?

No, pre-coating chicken in egg before frying is not strictly necessary. While it can provide benefits like enhanced crust adhesion, browning, and moisture, it is possible to achieve delicious fried chicken using properly formulated recipes without egg washing. Some batters and seasonings already have enough binding power.

Resting breaded chicken also allows the coating to affix. So while egg can improve the crunchy exterior, it is not mandatory for fried chicken if your recipe and technique don’t call for it. Whether to egg wash comes down to personal preference.

 

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