Home Ideas Elevate Chicken Fingers With Instant Potato Flakes

Elevate Chicken Fingers With Instant Potato Flakes

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I’ve been on a fried chicken kick lately—copycat fast food fried chicken is my latest favorite. I can’t blame myself, I’m chicken-rich right now and someone’s gotta eat it. However, I need to take a break from deep frying, so I’ve been baking and air frying instead. That doesn’t mean I’ve been missing out on gloriously crispy coatings, oh no. In fact, I’ve chanced upon a “breading” I’ve never tried before and the results are light, crisp, and potato-y.

During a separate fried chicken kick last year (my kicks are cyclical), I wrote about the benefits of double frying chicken and using potato starch. Potato starch has a higher starch content than flour, and it can help create a coating with incredible crunch. Plus, there’s a subtle and pleasant potato flavor dancing in the background. One reader commented on the post inquiring about using potato flakes, and I got to wondering. Why not? Certainly potato flakes could make a great coating.

How to make potato-coated chicken fingers

I didn’t use the flakes to twice fry my chicken like in the karaage method mentioned in the other post. Instead I decided to start at step one and try it with a standard breading technique: flour to egg, and egg to potato flakes. 

1. Marinate your chicken and prepare your station

I always like to brine my chicken, especially if it’s white meat. Even if it’s only for a half-hour, I brine that bird. I use pickle juice as a ready-made and flavorful choice, but you can use olive brine or any salty and acidic. While your chicken slices are marinating in the fridge, set up your breading station. 

You’ll need three dishes: Flour in one bowl, next to another bowl with scrambled raw egg, and finally a plate of potato flakes. Season the flour and egg with salt and any powdered seasonings you like. The potato flakes don’t really hold much because the flakes themselves are large and most powders will simply fall through. 

Off to the side, set up a wire rack over a sheet tray. You’ll use this as a place for the chicken’s coating to dry out and set a bit before cooking. 

2. Coat the chicken

Raw chicken coated in potato flakes.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Shake the excess marinade off of the chicken and dredge it in the flour. Coat all the sides. Plunk the chicken into the egg wash. Shake off the excess egg and then put it in the potato flakes. You can press the flakes onto the chicken so they adhere. Move the piece of protein onto the wire rack and repeat this breading with the other pieces of raw chicken. 

3. Air fry

Chicken fingers on a plate with ketchup.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

After letting the coating set for about five minutes, I used an oil sprayer to spritz all the sides of my chicken. Even though we’re not deep frying, a bit of oil increases browning, helps conduct the heat of the air fryer, locks in moisture, and binds the coating for the best results. If you don’t have an oil spritzer, use a pastry brush to dab a neutral cooking oil onto the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with a pinch of salt. 

Put the air fryer on the “air fry” setting at 375°F. Place the breaded chicken in the basket and cook them for about 12 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through. The chicken will have a slightly puffed, evenly browned coating. 

The potato flake coating produces a layer I’ve only ever really seen before on chicken schnitzel. The potato and egg join forces and create a sheet, not a porous layer like bread crumbs or panko. The sheet puffs slightly from the moisture of the chicken inside and the egg. The layer is light and crisp, but substantial at the same time. The potato flavor is subtle and complimentary to the chicken inside, not like using crushed potato chips which can fall off the chicken and dominate the flavor.

While this recipe is for a batch of air fryer chicken fingers, you can use potato flakes as a coating for any other protein you plan on breading. 

Potato Flake Chicken Fingers Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of chicken, marinated (roughly 1.5-inch by 4-inch slices)

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 egg

  • ¾ cup instant potato flakes

  • 1 teaspoon salt (divided)

  • Neutral oil for coating the chicken

1. Put the flour in a bowl. Scramble the raw egg in a separate bowl. Pour the potato flakes onto a plate. Season the flour and egg with the salt. Set these ingredients up so they’re right next to each other.  Off to the side, set up a wire rack over a sheet tray.

2. Shake the excess marinade off of a piece of chicken. Dredge it in the flour and then move it to the egg wash. Shake off the excess egg, and then put it in the potato flakes. Press the flakes onto the chicken so they adhere. Move the chicken to the wire rack and repeat this breading procedure with each piece.

3. Let the coating set for about five minutes. Spritz the oil onto all sides of the chicken. (Alternatively, use a pastry brush to dab oil onto the chicken.) Optionally, you can sprinkle a little more salt onto the chicken after the oil is applied. Air fry them on the “air fry” setting for about 12 minutes at 375°F, or until the coating is evenly browned and slightly puffed.

Source: LifeHacker.com