To Pané somthing means only to cover it with breadcrumbs or else. However there is a methodical method about it all which can differ from one person you talk about it to another. So it is fair to say that the rules are not fixed like a Eulogy on a grave stone, they can be adapted or evolve or remain. The choice is up to what suits you best.
It usually consists of three essential parts:
First it is to cover your ingredient to be pané with flour. Second you dip your Meat, Fish or Veg in lightly whisked eggs. This step is crucial to ensure that the next coating will stick to your ingredients. Thirdly and finaly you envelop your ingedient in a coat thick or thin evenly of crumbs.
Pané Trout fillet with baby potatoes and broad beans.
The Pané process can either make sure that the Meat, Fish or Veg stay moist underneath the coating or, in the oppsite if you want a very crisp and well done dish give it that feel especially if you deep fry the items afterwards. The result depends on the amount of time you leave it in the oil or any fat agent but also the temperature of it.
For a tip I can only advise to any of you to invest in an essiental kitchen gadget: a temperature probe. Not only it tells you the right temperature reached by your fat element, or for sugar, jam setting it is extremelly useful, but also it helps you to know when your food did reach the correct temperature to be fully cooked and safely served. For the little anecdote which is in fact a sheer stupidity of mine, trust me when I say to not use your finger to test the temperature of something. Abestos fingers is just a figure of speach and do not exist: it is just at tall tale and a myth which a lots of cooks loves to brag about.
Home Made Fish Fingers.
In my case one day I was preparing Caramel, one of the favourite things of my partner. It was my first time doing some. So of course I was a bit anxious, you know the what if I mess it up and I have a hard time to clean a pan afterwards... Anyhow what didn't help was the curious and constantly hovering partner who wanted his Caramel done to perfection and very much, so he was constantly pestering if the Caramel was the right colour and so on or if it was done. By impatience, I told him it was perfect but to prove it, I made the schoolboy error to put my finger in the mixture, and oh boy, oh boy, did it hurt and burn. I ended up jumping about in the kitchen to go to the sink swearing like a French sailor. Words I would not repeat here. But trust me when I say a temperature probe can be regarded as a safety tool in the kitchen just like a fire alarm is.
Going back to our Pané methods, the first step is the flour. Here you have two consideration to take. One is the type of flour to use. Test, taste and trial: the three Ts is the way to go. To be honest there, I mainly use plain white wheat Flour mainly by convenience but also to season it to my taste. Sometimes I use Self raising white Wheat Flour, for the extra puff it can give in the end result. Or you can add a little tea spoon of baking powder for the same result with the Plain White Flour.
Plain White Flour.
For added texture you have all sort of Flours to choose from: Buckwheat, Oatmeal, Rye, Rice flour and cormeal Flour.
In my humble recommendation, I would advice for whole meal Flour, Buckwheat or Rye Flours if you aim to do a Schnitzel. Rice flour is nice to coat Fish, Prawns, Vegetables to be use in an Asian way. While Cornmeal Flour add a 'Je ne sais quoi' to Sourthern USA and South American dishes: Yummy and Crispy.
Then it is true that you can let the Flour be just that something to protect the ingedient before the other two steps. However a little seasonning at this step of the process doesn't hurt for one bit, it helps to give flavour to the bite you will take later. Salt and pepper and even finely chopped parsley, does't hurt a Chicken Cordon Bleu or even a Chicken Kiev, let me tell you that. At the end of the day it is all about adding flavour. The Flouring stage is perfect to do it. Be yourself, creative, and remember we always learn by our mistakes.
Home Made Chicken Kiev with Runner beans but with very pale baby potatoes.
I can recommend the use of white pepper, of Cayenne pepper (a pinch) and for the Salt smoked crushed Sea Salt. There are Salts with Umami flavours like Nori or Kelp within them which are worth trying with a dish involving Fish, and also you can create crushed home made Garlic Salt to use in the flour, which is perfect for a Chicken Kiev. Choosing your own seasoning is key and not every seasoning goes to every dish so we are back to the 3 Ts.
The next step I will say is the messy one. You must dip your ingredients in an egg bath. This is however a swimming pool of yellow goodness which makes the link from one end to the other. This is the matrimonial link of a perfect Pané. So to refer to Roald Dahl, you must unsure that your egg is not a Bad Egg like Veruca Salt...
Bathing in the seasoned yolks. (Turkey Flattened Breast)
Like the Flour, you can choose your egg and its type. Fresh will be a good idea and of course a smelly one will be a bad idea. A simple tip is to put an egg in a glass of water, if it sinks to the bottom it is fresh, if it floats, it developped air pockets within it which means it is an old egg.
For Pané I will certainly not recommand a little quail egg however they can make nice little Scotch cocktail eggs. But fresh free range chicken eggs are my classical go to for using in a pané. Just whisk them lightly and you will have your binding agent. Duck eggs are rich with bigger yolks and are a mighty good option as well. However they have less white which can cause less covering of your overall end up product. So we can say more is less and less is more in that case. More yolk or more white this is the question because we aim for flavour and a very even covering.
Duck Eggs, very rich and nice, massive yolks but not a lot of white.
Speaking about flavour, you can also put some seasoning in this part of the process. I would say just a little salt and pepper would do the trick. It all depends on how much seasonning you did put in the first flouring stage on that matter. However I will say that chopped herbs at that stage tends to stick better to the Meat, Fish or Veg. This is because eggs act like a glue. It is a bounding trick. Chopped Chives, Chervil, Parsley, Dill, Coriander, could be added there and then depending on your planned dish. A little whisk around and you have waltzing flavours in that step as well.
About to flower Chives. Great with battered Fish. Chopped finely.
I am thinking of nice pairing like chopped Sage with Pork, Rosemary with Lamb, Thyme with Chicken, Chives with Meaty Fish, Dill with tender ones, Marjoram with Zucchini, Oregano with Aubergines.
Once the nice unctuous sticky coating is done, it is time to cover your piece with crumbs, thickly or thinly but most certainly evenly. No one wants a coat with a hole in it by fear to be called a pauper. The crumbs coating can be called 'La Créme de la Créme' or the Upper Crust. The same apply for that last step of the process as the other first two: it is all about your own choice.
Veal Schnitzel with Green Beans.
You can buy perfectly decent shop bought Crumbs. Golden etc which last long and with a bit of TLC hence seasoning, a pinch of Paprika, or Garlic Granules, or Cayenne Pepper can do the jazz of the dish you have planned.
However I love the ones called Panko Crumbs. They produce a nicely light and crunchy texture around your main ingredient. They are dry. Their consistency is also flakier than the usual breadcrumbs. You do obtain a lovely coverage with them. The result is usely less greasy as well.
Then of course you can make your own Breadcrumbs. You only need to make or choose your bread. Then if it is a day or two old or you can say that the dryer is the better. But don't let it go rance. Just let it age like a good wine but only for days not for decades. You will need a little blender at the very least in order to transform your bread into crumbs. You can also let your imagination going into a riot of creation, like a Mary Poppins in a Carroussel and let the race horses be all yours and let them loose.
To return to creation of Breadcrumbs, I do like to keep it simple and useful. From a nice loaf of white crusty bread turned into the Crumbs you can make the magic happen by simply adding the Superfragilisticexpialedocious word of all kitchen: Seasoning. A little Salt, a little Black Pepper and Parsley, a little minced Garlic, Chives, and a Star Jar of Breadcrumbs is created to go very well with Fish, Chicken, Turkey and Veg.
Now you can go the spicy way and add Cayenne pepper or and dried Chilli. Zest as well lime works well. It does add a little Zing.
Or you can go to the sunny shores of the Med with the zest of Sicilian Lemon, Black Pepper, Salt, Paprika, or, and very sun dried tomatoes. Si this is la Casa of la MaMa, we have pané Red Mullet fillets with a Ratatouille...
Anyhow, homemade Breadcrumbs are easy to do and to jar up. So you can use them whenever you need to, the lifetime you are looking for to store the Crumbs is about two weeks in a pantry, two months in a fridge and six in a freezer. They are handy tasty treats to have at home.
Homemade Breadcrumbs, a very handy way to have fancy ones in the pantry.
Coming to the handling part of it all, doing some Pané food can be a little messy and sticky even if the result is worth all the while. But there are multiple tips out and about to get your hands less messy. One are little kitchen gloves which you can wash, or the uncomfortable garden gloves for that mission of doing a 'Pané'. (Do not do that last one at home, it is when messy get messier). Forgetting all gloves, the method I did adopt is to have a bowl of water, usually at room temperature, on the compter during the process. I clean my fingers of any cloggy bits in the bowl, dry the hands on my tea towell an carry on the job at hand. The last method or tip is clever but I am too clumsy to do it.
The fact is I am left handed so it is my good or bad excuse. So it goes that you keep one hand to handle the coating in the dry ingredients and use the other one for the wet ingredients, hence the egg bath part, then the result is not so messy fingers. I like the concept of it, the theory of it but in practice I feel like a duckling learning to glide like a swan in the water for the first time and realise I am not yet a swan, I am just a duck with two left wings or flippers... But I think this method needs to be treated like an habit which you gain to a T with practice.
My last words will be that the dishes and meals you can get to pané some meat, some fish, some veg is pure pleasure. Who doesn't love a potato croquette?
Pané Turkey Scallops with Sautéed Potatoes and Roasted Tomatoes.
Pané Galora: Fish Fingers and Potato Croquettes upon a Salad bed.
I forgot to mention that Cheese can be panéed just as well to great effect. I love Mozzarella Sticks as an Appetizer.
Mozzarella Sticks with Cherry Tomatoes, Sundried Tomato Pesto and a Balsamic drizzle glaze.
There is something else to say about Pané as a method of cooking: it does make a plate attractive from little children to the elderly. Because for example for fish they will know, there will be no bones whatsover in them: fish went through processes which give people trust. A study in Paris done years ago to nusery children showed them drawing little rectangles coloured in yellow or orange when they were asked to draw a fish. It resulted to the decision to take the children of deprived or poor families to see the sea for the first time on holiday and to know that fish wasn't a rectangle but that it had fins and eyes. However confession for confession I do like fish fingers, I do make some myself and find them dead easy to eat.
Fish Fingers... Soft in the inside, crispy a little on the outside, and no bones...
One must say that a Fish and Chips Shop is always very popular and rely mainly on their Fish yes but also on their Batter and how golden their Fish look to the eyes of the consumer however let us not forget the Taste: Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.
Scampi and Chips.
Dare I say that one of the first things I did learn to cook was a Fried Egg. My ones are always sunny side up. I also like them a little crispy around the edges to know that the white has been rendered properly. But the Eggs still need to have that exquisite runny yellow yolk at the centre to run free upon the plate. It is a little magical moment of bliss: A little like singing along to the song "My favourite things" from the Sound of Music Film with Julie Andrews.
The Breakfast Fry Up with fried Bread, Bacon and Eggs. It is simple yet fulfilling. It is the fuel to start the day or at least one's day. An Egg takes roughly four to five minutes to fry depending on its size, sometimes more, sometimes less.
There is one thing I will confess, which is, to like a Fried Egg with rough edges. When they are done within a ring or device so they do look neat, I think it kills the charm of the good old Egg coming from a proper Farm, from a Farm where the Chicken are roaming outdoors. My Grand Parents (RIP) lived most of their lives in Bourg en Bresse and there in the Bresse area of France the Chicken graze the grass, the green green grass, and you can taste the difference with the Chicken from a battery Chicken and from a Farm Egg from a battery Egg.
A Poulet de Bresse, de Bourg en Bresse, happy roaming in a field of clovers.
There are a variety of Eggs to be pan fried but being rather conventional I tend to stay in the realm of Chicken Eggs. However I venture very often in the kingdom of the rich Duck Egg with that bountiful dark yellow Yolk. If I do poach a Duck Egg more than I do fry it, I am still doing it often for the ratio between the white and the yolk. There is less white in a Duck Egg. The star there is truly and simply the luscious Yolk. A Duck Egg is full of proteins and different vitamins which is a plus.
Duck Eggs are of course larger than Hen's Eggs.
If Duck Eggs may be harder to get because they are not the normal standard Egg, they are still worth the while to have and eat. The Fried Duck Egg add a touch of luxury upon an Easter Breakfast of Grilled Asparagus, and Shaved Truffles. Garnish with a little Chives, Black Pepper and Sea Salt as a finish then now we are talking simply of very simple lush Brunch.
Pan Fried Duck Egg upon Chips served with a good dollop of Lemon Mayonnaise, seasonned and garnished with chopped Parsley. This is a satisfying simple Lunch.
However I tried my hand to cook Quail Eggs as well. Sometimes it was successful and sometimes it was not. Is it that they are too small for my clumsy fingers...? Or is it that the matter of time is seriously reduced when cooking them? Hence you do need to keep an eye upon the clock and upon the Egg. This is a balancing act which one might crack: May it be the Quail Egg or you with a smile upon your face? But Fried Quail Eggs are quaint and definitely suitable to create Canapés and Appetizers.
Home Made Crostinis with Fried Quail Eggs topped with red Herrring Roe. It is simple and a rustic Canapé to be enjoyed.
They are plenty of ways to taste Fried Quail Eggs. I would say they are dainty but nice; that it is a taste the difference matter. Fried Quail Eggs can make a Bruschetta sing a little bit more for a nice Brunch or even Starter for Dinner time. With very little imagination, you can cover your Olive Oil oven toasted slice of Bread (Sourdough, Ciabatta or Baguette), with a Cream Cheese which is seasoned with added Ingredients of your choice (Chilli Flakes or a little pinch of Cayenne Pepper or a little Chive, or a little Dill, or a little shredded Basil, or a little chopped and roasted Garlic). On top of the whisked Cream Cheese, you can build a layer with a cured or smoked Ham (Prosciutto, Serrano, Parma Ham...even Bacon rashers). But you can also use Fish freshly cooked, smoked or cured. Then add your fried Quail Egg on top. This is an all so simple treat.
Mini Pesto Pizza with mini Mozzarella Balls, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Fried Quail Eggs. It can make a nice Starter to an Italian theme Dinner.
Now there is something with most of Eggs you can do to fry them: It is the Scotch Egg. The recipe dates from a long time ago the 1800 plus so has evolved to be ever so different. The principle of it reside, in covering an Egg with Minced Meat then to bread the result in order to Fry it. Initially it was called the scortch Egg because it was fried but enclosed. However it became the Scotch Egg in the end. The history says that it was because Scotland was a big producer of Eggs.
Scotch Eggs can be very dry but to have a runny yolk centre is part of the pleasure with them.
They can make a good Brunch or Lunch. Scotch Eggs are not as per say fanciful however you have a room to play there in term of cookery. Which Egg you are going to use? A Hen Egg, a large Duck Egg or a small Quail Egg...?
Quail Scotch Eggs Salad. You can do it with Lambs Lettuce or Pea Shoots. Serve it with or without Pancetta or Lardons. Decorate the plate with edible Flowers like Viola. A simple French dressing can accompany everything even some chopped woodland Mushrooms to give the feel of Autumn to the plate.
Then with which minced Meat you are going to wrap your Egg? A spiced Mince most certainly, it could be Sausage Meat, Lamb Mince, Beef Mince, Turkey Mince but it can also be from a Fish as well like a Smoked Salmon or Trout.
Salmon Mousse Scotch Quail Eggs served with pickled Radishes, Lamb Lettuce and Tartare Sauce.
It can be with Black Pudding, or the stuffing for Haggis... There you have the tools to make your Scotch Egg special. Seasoning the Breadcrumbs also does play a part in the entire making of a Scotch Egg. The result of your combinations usually makes a satisfying Lunch or Starter.
Black Pudding Scotch Eggs on a bed of peppery Rocket Salad dressed with a grain Mustard Vinaigrette: A Lunch that is packing a punch on a plate.
Speaking of Eggs there is of course the Eggy Bread. It is also called French Toast, French Fried Bread, Pain Perdu, Gypsy Bread. The concept comes from an old tradition to not loose Bread at any cost. Even if the Bread becomes old and stale, you can revive it with a source of life which is the Egg and another Ingredient which nurtures life which is Milk. Hence the Eggy Bread was born. Then it can become a Dish in itself or a base for either Savoury Dishes or Sweet Ones.
Eggy Bread Toasts. The principle relies on mixing Eggs and Milk together in order to revive the Bread. Soaking the Bread, usually overnight (in the old days) then Frying it made it all better.
You can turn the Eggy Bread savoury for a full Brunch experience, like with a Croque Monsieur with Ham and Cheese or a Croque Madame with the addition of the Fried Egg. The Croque Monsieur is in effect a Sandwich but a Fried one. It is a bang bang two slices of fried Bread, enclosing a decent slice of Ham and a Cheese with quality of the like of Gruyére or Emmental or Comté Cheese. A Mustard Sauce is usually applied to perk up everything. It could be Dijon Mustard whisked up with a little Mayo. But the result is licking fingers delish... The history of the Croque Monsieur dates from the 1800's.
The Croque Monsieur in all its glorious lushness. Before becoming a Bistro or Gastro Pub Treat, it was seen, regarded as a Gentleman's Club Treat.
From the Croque Monsieur to the Croque Madame there are only a few differences. The main one is the addition of the fried Egg on the Croque Madame. The Egg is meant to represent a Lady's wide brimmed hat. Another difference is that the Sauce Béchamel which can be used for the Croque Monsieur can be élévated to the Sauce Mornay for the Croque Madame. The little stamp is the inclusion of Cheese within the Sauce. The Sauce was créated by Philippe de Mornay who also créated the Sauce Béchamel back in the 1500's.
Croque Madame. Croque in French means to actually bite into something that has a crunch: Hence Fried Eggy Bread with a difference.
Then you do have the Croque Mademoiselle: it is an evolution or a variation as per say of the original Croque Monsieur juste like the Croque Madame is a variation as well. This time the main difference is the inclusion of Vegetables within the 'Croque'. It can be totally vegetarian or a bit of a mix. It could be made with the essential Eggy Bread slices but also with sandwiched in between Asparagus, Parma Ham and Parmesan. It could be made with fried Courgettes, melted Mozzarella, Oregano and Espelette Chilli. It is up to the inspiration of the moment. The Croque Mademoiselle is a volatile fried Sandwich. To be blunt it is up to anyone's interpretation apart that it does need to contain a green Veg: Cucumber, Zucchini, Asparagus... For it is the Veg option out of all the Croques.
Croque Mademoiselle with layers of fried Aubergines, Courgettes, roasted Red Sweet Bell Pepped, Cottage Cheese served with a fried Egg on top just like a Croque Madame. It had a Med Feel to it.
French Toast are not all savoury for some are sweet as well. Different combinations are there to be appreciated. A favourite one is served with fresh Berries: Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries... but also with a Jam or Preserve or Compote which could be made with Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries and the Eggy Bread will be accompanied with Custard. It is a yummy number.
Eggy Bread with Berries. It can be a small tea time treat but it is still special. Another version is made with dried Apricot and fresh ones, (It could be done with Nectarines and Peaches too). The addition of Apricot Jam traditionally done with Almond kernels renders everything lush. Toasted Almonds can add to the decoration in that case.
Similarly Bruschetta is a toasted slice of Bread usually it will be made with Pain de Campagne, Sourdough Bread, Ciabatta or Baguette as a base. The slice will be rubed with Garlic but also dipped in Olive Oil. Then it can be fried within a frying Pan or grilled. The toppings of the Bruschetta are up to you. The traditional ones are with chopped Tomatoes. But additional Ingredients can be added like Basil and, or Organo for Herbs, Capers and, or Olives for a little saltiness, even Anchovies could be considered. Chopped Preseved Lemon could be considered as well. Another combination is the chopped Tomatoes, chopped roasted Sweet Bell Peppers, crispy Shallots with the addition of Mozzarella Pearls or even a little slice or cubed Goat Cheese.
Tomato and Sweet Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta with Basil and a little grated Parmesan. It can be a simple Brunch, an Appetizer or a Starter/Entrée. The addition of Kalamata Olives, or Olives stuffed with Anchovies can bring this Bruschetta to another level.
Concerning Dough you do have plenty which we do Fry which are sweet. During my childhood one of my favourites treats were the Croustillons. They came by 6, the dozen or 24. It was just little balls of Dough fried then sugared. They were ever so nice. We could have them and share between us three kids only on the Thursday and Saturday at the Market in Cherbourg. I can tell you that we were looking out for that Van and the Croustillons. They are from Northern Europe especially the coastal areas, from Holland, Belgium and France.
Croustillons are like mini Donuts.
Then there is of course the Doughnut also spelled Donut. It feels like Homer Simpson dreaming of Donuts. I must confess to be partial to Sugared Ring Doughnuts. Although I am not a sweet tooth Fried Dough does it for me. For Tyn he loves his Jam Doughnuts. The matter of fact is that Doughnuts are versatile as per say as you can top them up the way you want to but also fill them up the way you like.
Sugared Ring Doughnuts. One Treat I can't escape from.
In France, a similar Fried Dough is called Beignet. They come in different shapes filled up or not. A Popular one is the Apple Beignet: Le Beignet aux Pommes. My Mum used to do them usually on the Saturday afternoon. It was a treat especially since Oil was expensive, it was important to do the most of it. Hence Fritters (Beignets) were the way to go. Beignets (Fritters) are dipped in French culture and the Italian one but also in the USA, from Louisiana (which was colonised by the French back in the days). It goes with the flow.
The fillings for Beignets or Fritters are rather varied. Apple is a very popular one coming from areas in France who produces a lot of Apples like Normandy. Pineapple Fritters have their origins from Asian countries like Indonesia (Indochina). French colonists can be blamed for it as well. Then in the Créole Cuisine there are the Banana or, and Plantain Beignets/Fritters.