Fresh breadcrumbs, whether toasted or left soft, are incomparably better than the bought version and a wonderful way to use up leftover and stale bread. They’re perfect for meatloaves, rissoles, meatballs and stuffings as well as coating food for frying. You can either cut off the crusts before processing or not. If the crust is especially crisp, it may not process well.
Pack crumbs in ziplock bags, label and freeze until required.
To dry the crumbs simply put some fresh breadcrumbs on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until dried and golden.
If the bread you are turning into crumbs has a large crust, it is better to process the soft middle part separately because the crust will take longer to process.
For coarser crumbs, slightly dry the bread in the oven, then grate using the grater attachment instead of the chopping blade.
Two slices of regular bread will make about 250ml of fresh crumbs.
The only bought breadcrumbs worth using are Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
What sets panko apart from regular bread crumbs is the processing.
The bread is processed in such a way that the resulting crumbs looks like flakes rather than crumbs. The flakiness means a much broader surface area than regular breadcrumbs.
If you coat food in panko before frying, you will end up with a crisp, light fried coating. Oil does not soak into crumbs as readily as it does into regular breadcrumbs, so you are left with a lighter, less-greasy coating.
You will find them in Chinese or Asian food shops as well as some delicatessens.
GRILLED PESTO TOMATOES WITH PARMESAN CRUMBS
5 ripened tomatoes
60ml ready-made pesto
2 discs of feta, crumbled
salt and pepper
30ml olive oil
375ml ciabatta breadcrumbs
60ml chopped parsley
125ml grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Use a small, sharp knife to cut the top and base from each tomato. Cut tomatoes in half crossways and place on a baking tray. Top each tomato with pesto and crumbled feta. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and fry the breadcrumbs until golden, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and add the parsley and Parmesan. Top the tomatoes with the parmesan crumble. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden. Serve immediately.
SPICY CHEESE AND BACON CROQUETTES
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
½ packet of streaky bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
60ml chopped coriander
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
125ml grated mature cheddar
80g mature cheddar, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 eggs, slightly whisked
375ml brown breadcrumbs
vegetable oil, for frying
Place the peeled potatoes in a saucepan of boiling, salted water and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the pan over low heat. Toss for 1 minute or until excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and using a potato masher, mash until smooth. For extra-smooth mash, use a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper. Place mashed potato in a bowl with bacon, spring onions, coriander, paprika, chilli, egg, flour and grated cheese. Mix to combine. Shape heaped tablespoons of mixture into balls, push a cube of cheese into centre of each ball and shape mixture around cheese to enclose. Place flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Roll croquettes in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg mixture and coat in breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and refrigerate for an hour.
Pour enough oil in a medium, deep frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat. Cook croquettes, in batches, turning for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
MEATLOAF WITH CRUMBED TOPPING
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
10ml chopped garlic
500g beef mince
250ml fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
30ml tomato sauce
15ml Worcestershire sauce
5ml Dijon mustard
60ml dried cranberries
15ml olive oil
180ml grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oil and gently fry the onion, carrot, celery and garlic until soft. Remove from the heat and cool. Combine with the mince, breadcrumbs, egg, tomato and Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cranberries and season well. Press the mixture into a lined 24x13cm loaf pan, pressing down firmly. Press the crumb mixture on the mince. Bake at 180°C doe 40-45 minutes until the mince is cooked and the topping golden brown.
TOPPING: Heat the oil and fry the breadcrumbs until golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and Parmesan cheese.
PORK SCHNITZEL WITH APPLE SALAD
4 lean pork steaks
60ml seasoned flour
2 eggs beaten
about 250ml Panko or fresh white breadcrumbs
15ml apple cider vinegar
10ml wholegrain mustard
1 green apples, cored and thinly sliced
1-2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
Lemon wedges for serving
Using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound the steaks until they are about 5mm thick. Dust them with flour then dip in the beaten egg and finally coat well with the breadcrumbs. Place on a tray and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Melt the butter and oil in a pan and when sizzling add the meat to the pan and cook over a medium heat for about2-3 minutes a side. Drain on paper towel.
Serve topped with the salad accompanied with a wedge of lemon.
SALAD: Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard and mix well. Add the apples and celery and toss to coat.
TUNA AND COURGETTE PASTA WITH PANGRATTATO
6 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
375ml fresh breadcrumbs
80ml chopped parsley
400g short pasta
5ml chopped garlic
250g punnet of courgettes, grated
175g tin of tuna in brine, drained and flaked
5ml grated lemon rind
45ml lemon juice
125ml grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oil and add the garlic, anchovies and breadcrumbs and fry until the crumbs are golden. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.
Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and reserve about 125ml of the cooking liquid.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a deep frying pan and add the garlic and courgettes. Fry for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tuna, lemon rind and juice, Parmesan cheese and pasta. Toss well to coat adding some of the cooking liquid if the mixture is too dry. Divide the pasta into serving plates and sprinkle generously with the crumb mixture. - The Star
* Pangrattato is the Italian word for breadcrumbs.