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Secrets To Super Pan-Frying

You may not realize it, but there are tricks to pan-frying meats and fish to perfection.

And on The Early Show Friday, Everyday Food magazine Director of Food Lucinda Scala Quinn showed how it's done.

Why should it matter to home cooks?

Pan-frying, she explained, is an easy way to dress up simple cuts of meat, and pan-fried items are the base for favorite dishes, such as the chicken cutlets used for chicken parmesan.

Here's what you need to know:

  • People traditionally think of pan-frying chicken cutlets, but the technique also works with pork, turkey, veal and firm white fish, such as tilapia.
  • Just make sure the protein you choose is cut or pounded quite thin. Once the meat is breaded and in the pan, you want it to cook before the breadcrumbs burn!
  • Sorry, there are no shortcuts to breading and pan-frying. Luckily though, the steps themselves are simple. You really do have to dredge your meat in both flour and eggs before dipping it in the breadcrumbs.
  • Just as you can choose a variety of meats to pan-fry, you can customize your breadcrumbs. Mix in herbs, grated cheese, crushed nuts, or even citrus zest. That will add a whole other layer of flavor to your finished product.
  • Make sure the oil in your pan is hot, hot, hot! If it isn't, the breaded cutlet will soak up the oil instead of browning in it.


    Breaded Chicken Cutlets

    Serves 4

    3 large eggs
    coarse salt
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    3 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
    1 cup vegetable oil
    8 thin chicken cutlets
    lemon wedges

    In a shallow dish, whisk eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt; let stand 5 minutes. In another shallow dish, season flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a third shallow dish, season breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon salt.

    In a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy deep skillet, heat oil over medium. Meanwhile, pat chicken dry with paper towels. Coat in flour, shaking off excess then dip in egg. Dredge in breadcrumbs turning twice and patting to adhere.

    Increase heat to medium-high. Working in batches, add chicken to skillet; cook gently shaking skillet occasionally until chicken is browned, about 4 min. Turn with tongs; cook until browned and opaque throughout, 2 - 3 minutes more (if browning too quickly, lower heat). Between batches, skim off brown crumbs from oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels; season with salt.

    Making breadcrumbs: For 3 1/2 cups, pulse 9 slices white bread in a food processor until fine crumbs form. You may use fewer breadcrumbs if you're incorporating grated cheese, herbs, crushed nuts or citrus zest into the mixture.

    To see Everday Food's take on chicken cutlets, including demonstration photos, click here. It appears in the magazine's March issue.