Bread Crumbs, Batters, and Coatings
Consumers are constantly looking for convenient and time saving foods, pre breaded, battered or coated products definitely fall into this category.
In addition to the obvious benefits of taste, colour and texture, coatings also improve the yield and moisture retention qualities. They also combat many of the demands of processing, distribution and final appearance on the table. In short they assist in sealing in your profits while producing a better performing and better tasting product.
The variety of coatings or coverings available to professional butcheries and meat processors in South Africa are endless; batters, breadcrumbs, breading products, marinades, sauces, glazes, seasonings and binders.
The demand for crumbed and battered meat and poultry products has grown substantially over the past decade, both prepared for home cooking and take-aways from fast food outlets.
By pre breading or coating such items as chicken legs and fillets, pork chops and the like, the butcher can increase both turnover and a growing appreciation from his/her customer base.
There are many factors that influence the amount of pickup that can be attained during the coating process. It is however important to first have an understanding of the parts of a coating system. Basically this is composed of multiple layers around the meat. These layers are a predust (dry, fine particles), a batter (liquid), and a breading (dry, fine or coarse particles).
A marinade or brine may also be considered as a layer between the meat and the predust. It is typical to use all of these layers, but variations do exist. Marinades and predusts are not always required and neither are breaders. In some cases, the batter is the final step in a coating system. Changes in the use of these layers can result in changes in coating pickup, texture, and appearance.
Incorporating certain ingredients into the meat can be useful in improving product texture, flavour, and coating adhesion. The salts and phosphates used in typical ingredient formulations can lead to protein extraction which not only allows the product to bind together (formed products), but also allows interaction between muscle proteins and proteins (e.g. wheat gluten/ egg) in the predust or batter.
The first coating is the predust which serves as the interface between the meat (with or without marinade) and the coating system. It is responsible for adhesion of the batter to the meat. It can also be a flavour carrier and can result in increased coating pickup though it generally makes up a small percentage of the overall pickup. Predusts are used in products with wet or oily surfaces because they dry the surface of the product and improve the binding of the batter. They are also important in the cooking process as they help seal in the moisture of the product, thereby improving yield.
Batter plays a pivotal role in texture, appearance and flavour of the product. It is a liquid phase and can be either an adhesion or coating type of batter. An adhesion batter is used when a subsequent breading layer is applied and it is typically more viscous so that breading will better adhere to it. A coating batter is used when it is the final layer of a coating system (i.e., no breader used). Using a coating batter will result in a smooth appearance without the typical crumb appearance observed with breaded products. Adding flavourings to batters is also useful in maximizing flavours in products.
There are a variety of breaders available for use depending on the characteristics desired in the final product. The particle size can impact the breading coverage and texture of the product. A finely granulated breader generally results in a more uniform coverage whereas a coarsely granulated breader may result in less uniform coverage. When selecting a breader for a product, the particle size should be in proportion to the product. For example, a more finely granulated breader would be appropriate for a small piece such as a nugget whereas a larger particle size would be appropriate for large piece such as breaded fillet.
Other ingredients used in breader formulations are browning agents, colouring agents and visual particulates made of herbs and/or spices. Seasonings, herbs, and spices added to breaders will often flash off in the fryer and therefore be an ineffective way to add flavour to the system. Rather, these are added for visual appeal.
Ice crystals or excess moisture on the surface of the meat can be detrimental to coating adhesion. This moisture can interfere with the adhesion between the raw ingredient and the predust or batter and cause the coating to blow off during cooking. Setting a good base for the batter and breading to adhere to is important in overall pickup and quality of the product.
Creative crumbing combinations
Now that you know the basics of crumbing, you can vary the flavours in your coating to create a range of delicious meals.
Try these ideas -.
• Add ground spices, such as cumin, paprika or cayenne pepper, to the flour mixture.
• A little finely grated cheese, such as parmesan or cheddar, combines well with fresh or dried (packaged) breadcrumbs.
• Add other flavouring ingredients, such as finely chopped pitted black or green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped capers or lightly toasted sesame seeds to the breadcrumb mixture.
• Add finely chopped fresh herbs, such as continental parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and dill, to the breadcrumb mixture. You could also use dried herbs.
• Add finely grated lemon, lime or orange rind to the breadcrumb mixture. As a guide, lemon rind works well with lamb, veal, chicken and seafood; lime rind is a good match for chicken and seafood; while orange rind is delicious with pork and veal.
Source – The Butcher