Getting flour or bread crumbs to stick to chicken meat is an important step of making fried chicken. You can get elaborate with a three-step flour-egg-breading situation, or you can paint the meat with mayo before tossing it in flour or panko (or whatever crumb you favour). You can also use ranch dressing.
Like adding mayonnaise to mashed potatoes, this little hack was something my stepmom had been quietly doing for years. She only revealed her secret this last weekend, while we were attempting to rescue a batch of fried chicken. (The recipe called for pressing a single layer of flour directly onto brined chicken and tossing it directly into hot frying oil. It did not work well.)
Rather than break out the eggs, she grabbed a jar of mayo and proceeded to brush it on the chicken before dipping it into flour. “Oh, that’s what I do!” I told her.
“I usually use ranch dressing,” she replied. “But this will work.” (We were, sadly, out of ranch dressing.)
Ranch dressing is not exactly “flavored mayo,” but it’s not far off, and it behaves nearly identically in this application. Mayonnaise is often used as a good portion of the base, though commercially-made dressings can contain another oil emulsion. Like mayo, it’s sticky enough to grab onto and hold a substantial amount of flour or crumbs. Unlike mayo, it has an extra bit of flavour by way of buttermilk, MSG, garlic powder, and a wide array of other seasonings, herbs, and spices.
Executing this move is easy: Pat your chicken (nuggets, whole pieces — whatever!) dry with some paper towels, then pour some ranch dressing into a bowl, grab a pastry brush, and brush the dressing in a thin layer onto the chicken. Dip the ranch-coated chicken in your flour or crumbs, then bake, fry, or air fry however you usually would. Your breading will stick, and your chicken will have a slight but noticeable advantage (thanks to the thin, imperceptible layer of buttermilk and MSG).
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