True, making breadcrumbs from scratch is nothing fancier than pulverizing, toasting, and maybe seasoning old bread. The real charm of the homemade stuff: A spare half a loaf could inspire new dinner ideas on the spot—if you know how to use it.
Types of Crumbs
Almost all crumb "recipes" consist of grinding down day-old or leftover bread (it should be somewhat hardened or beginning to dry out, but not rock-hard or moldy). But only some go a step further to suggest toasting the crumbs, while others call for soft, fluffy crumbs. Purists discard the crusts, but I like the color and texture they offer.
To decide what to make with the bread at hand, remember this: Crispy crumbs suit crispy meals—like pan-fried cutlets, baked chicken fingers, or crusted casserole dishes like mac and cheese. If soft white bread is what's in your bag, put its squishier skill set to use for making moist stuffings for roulades or vegetables, or to give consistency to items like meatloaf, meatballs or crab cakes without drying them out.
Click through the slideshow for a quick how-to.
Warning: Side effects include inflated sense of pride—"You're not so hot, Martha Stewart"—and runaway crumbs.
About the author: "Sue Veed" is an editor at a Manhattan-based food magazine and a current culinary student who's trying to learn it all so she can cook it all. She'll take us along for the ride as she makes the journey from home cook to professional. Among things she may never master: looking natural in a chef's hat, and acting demure whenever a pork product hits the table.
What to Do with the Crumbs
- Breaded Cutlets (Chicken, Pork, Veal, Eggplant) »
- St. Joseph's Sawdust with Pasta »
- Mark Bittman's Baked Macaroni and Cheese »
- Tortino di Cioccolato »
- Breadcrumb-Stuffed Vegetables »
- Tamarind-Glazed Meatloaf »
- Toaster Oven Meatloaf With Chili Sauce »
- Fresh Tagliatelle with Green Beans, Rainbow Chard, and Aged Goat Cheese »