Using breadcrumbs in the kitchen is the perfect way to add crisp and crunch to the usual salad, entrée, or dessert. As chef and media personality Mario Batali once said, "There's almost nothing I wouldn't put homemade breadcrumbs on."
Making crumbs themselves is just plain easy. It's also a great way to keep bread leftovers from going to waste. You can even make crumbs from foods such as chips, crackers, cereal, and cookies. Some of these, if they are made from corn or rice, can be great alternatives for gluten-free diets.
Homemade breadcrumbs have a freshness you can taste, something that store-bought crumbs can't provide. If you are using bread from a local bakery, you can also avoid the preservatives found in packaged crumbs.
As mentioned before, breadcrumbs make a great topping, but they can also be used to bind and thicken meat (think burger patties, meatballs, and meatloaf) and for coating foods for the deep fryer (crispy fried chicken). So get ready to impress your palette with the delicious texture and flavor of homemade breadcrumbs.
There are a couple of ways to make traditional breadcrumbs. The most obvious is to use dry, stale bread. If you don't have stale bread, follow these instructions.
- Place slices of bread in the toaster, and get them as toasted and crisp as possible without burning them.
- Tear toasted bread into pieces.
- Place toasted pieces in a food processor and pulse until crumbs are desired size.
- If you do not have have a food processor, put pieces of bread into a ziplock bag and mash with a hammer or other heavy tool.
You can also use, English muffins, or hot dog and hamburger buns.
Crumbs can be made from any kind of chip or cracker and can really add bonus flavor if you're using, let's say Doritos Cool Ranch tortilla chips or Goldfish crackers. Just mash them up in the food processor or ziplock bag as described above.
Cereal is another great alternate to breadcrumbs. Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies in particular are great for coating foods ready to be fried. Also, if you've never tried Frosted Flakes-coated French toast, you must. (For more French toast cooking tips, make sure to read this.)
That's right, dry ramen noodles count as a very interesting crumb coating. Chef David Chang makes a killer version of RFC (ramen fried chicken), all the proof you need that ramen makes awesome crumbs.
Other Asian snack foods such as Calbee Shrimp Chips also make super flavorful crumbs thanks to their special seasonings.
Oh yes, panko crumbs are also delicious! Even though they are made from bread, they have a much different consistency than western breadcrumbs. Panko crumbs are light and super crispy, almost as if they've been pre-fried, even though they haven't been.
Typically, they are made from bread that has had its crust removed, then is ground into flakes. Another surprising method that is used to create panko crumbs is electrocution. Yes, instead of the bread being cooked, it is electrocuted as Alton Brown demonstrates in this video.
Panko crumbs make an excellent coating or topping for shrimp, chicken, macaroni and cheese, and even vegetables. Foods fried with a panko coating stay crispier for longer because they don't absorb grease as easily as regular breadcrumbs, according to Michelle Foley of CHOW. To make them at home, you can follow the steps listed on the So Good blog.
You can use homemade breadcrumbs for pretty much anything, including salads, veggie burgers, meat burgers, crab cakes, fries, chicken fingers, fried chicken, mussels, broccoli, fruit cobblers, etc. Is there anything that crumbs can't make better? Plus, you can use any combination of crumbs you like to spice things up a bit, like crackers and ramen, bread and chips, etc.