Shoot me straight. Is it lame that I not only like – but look forward to – making my own breadcrumbs?
Have I officially crossed the line from “foodie” to “freak?” How do you feel about the fact that I am:
a) opening myself up to public ridicule by sharing this slightly embarrassing pastime with you, and
b) advocating that you start making – and loving – your own breadcrumbs too?
You know when you eat a couple slices of toast and there are little crumbs left behind on your plate?
Yeah, these are not those.
How about those breadcrumbs that you buy in the cardboard canister at the grocery store? You know, the ones that taste more like the container they’re in than anything at all?
These breadcrumbs? Definitely not those.
What happens when you take a little time and a few ingredients to their full potential? Well, you get these breadcrumbs…and they are better than anything you could buy at the store. Start thinking of things you could top or coat with these crumbs.
While you’re brainstorming, let’s talk about bread. Here, we have some slices of the hearty oatmeal variety – but any bread will do, really. Believe it or not though – stale is best because your slices will toast and brown up quicker since they’re already a little dried out.
Normal people saved their bread for a sandwich, but not us. We’ve got bigger plans for our bread.
Pulse all of the pieces in your food processor – as you can see here – you’ll have crumbs of all sizes, which is perfectly fine. Just process everything until you’ve got something that resembles what you see above. Oh, and don’t overcrowd your food processor – do this in two batches if that works best.
Keep that little appliance up on the counter for a sec – shallots are going in! Don’t be fooled by their small size and purplish hue – these puppies pack a punch! They fall somewhere between an onion and garlic on the flavor spectrum and I love them…long time.
Add your crumbs and your shallots to a large, rimmed pan and top them with some salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, garlic and a good drizzle of vegetable oil. Your crumbs will brown faster if you put them in a couple pans where you can spread ’em out in a thin layer, but they will eventually toast up even if you do what I did and used one giant roasting pan. Instead of one thin layer of breadcrumbs, I had one pretty thick one. Oh well…it worked.
Pop your pan in the oven and toss every five minutes until everything’s all roasty toasty!
As your breadcrumbs cool down and come to room temp, get ready to fold in some last minute flavors. We’ve got a little thyme – which goes a long way – and a heaping quarter cup full of parmesan cheese. Because, as you know, I can never have enough cheese. Don’t judge.
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 7 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
8 slices hearty sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 small shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 7 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 20-30 minutes, stirring every five minutes during baking time.
Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with parmesan, thyme, and parsley.
These breadcrumbs really do burst with flavor, but they’ll take a backseat to whatever else they’re working with. Making mac and cheese? Top it with these, please. How about some meatloaf? Toss in some homemade breadcrumbs. Is crunchy baked chicken what you’re craving? Coat your chicken up with these crumbs and bake ’em off until the chicken is cooked all the way through and your breadcrumbs get even more golden.
What’s that you say? You need a crunchy baked chicken recipe? Hmmm…I’ll see what I can do for ya 😉