When making fried chicken, the quantities you need of staples like milk, eggs and flour depend largely on your cooking method. You should consider three key points: Whether you will be tenderizing the chicken in a marinade before frying, what kind of coating the chicken will have, and whether you'll be serving the chicken with gravy. A standard recipe will call for a whole chicken, or eight to 10 pieces, but it's helpful to double-check the size or number of chickens used.
Potentially, you may use milk or buttermilk in three different stages of frying chicken. A traditional buttermilk-fried chicken with gravy, for example, requires 3 cups of buttermilk for the marinade, and 2 cups whole milk for the gravy. Because the chicken retains moisture from the marinade, you don't dip it in milk before dredging it in flour. For a quicker version in which you dredge the chicken pieces first in a milk and egg mixture, then in flour, you'll only need 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk.
Unlike milk, which can be used in up to three stages of cooking fried chicken, eggs only figure -- sometimes -- in the coating stage. In general, a recipe in which you dredge your chicken in an egg and milk mixture will call for one to two eggs -- a thick batter for deep-frying will likely have two eggs. If you are following a recipe that has no whole milk or egg yolks, you'll need about four eggs to make a dip from egg whites. Some traditional Southern fried chicken recipes use no egg or milk, only flour.
How much flour you'll need in for fried chicken is based on how thick the coating or batter is, as well as if you'll be serving it with gravy. A basic dredging of eight to 10 chicken pieces can take anywhere from 1 to 3 cups of flour to ensure even coating, especially if you are using the "double dip" method before frying. For the optional gravy that some people serve with fried chicken, you need about 2 tablespoons of flour to thicken the gravy.
Whether because you want to spice things up or because you're following long-standing regional traditions, you may include other elements or your recipe may call for them. Double-check the ingredients list to make sure the dredging milk isn't evaporated milk or buttermilk. Similarly, breadcrumbs, matzo meal or cornmeal may step in for some or all of the white flour. Finally, some coatings use an egg substitute product rather than whole eggs.
Ellen Douglas has written on food, gardening, education and the arts since 1992. Douglas has worked as a staff reporter for the Lakeville Journal newspaper group. Previously, she served as a communication specialist in the nonprofit field. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut.
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