Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homemade Flavored Bread Crumb Topping [Zack]

I try to find the good side of all situations in life.  When Lauren and I were visiting Italy, we had to book a hotel room by the airport so we could work remotely for a day (eww).  Since we were at the hotel all day, we ended up eating in the restaurant there.  The food was a little disappointing, but I still came away with a fun concept to try at home!

I had pasta with pears and gorgonzola.  It was topped with crunchy, slightly cheesey bread crumbs.  My mind started racing about how I could sprinkle these on a multitude of dishes to add a crispy and savory element.

These are easy to make and you can store them in the fridge and re-crisp them if needed.  It's a good way to use up that hard bread that has been sitting on your counter while you weren't in the mood for a sandwich.  I started with leftover wheat bread, but you can also do this with store-bought breadcrumbs.


The first step is to make sure that your bread is very dry and crunchy.  We are going to blend them in the food processor, and if the bread is still moist, it won't be fully chopped up.

I took day-old wheat bread and sliced it into strips for maximum surface area.  It will dry out more quickly in the oven.

Put your oven on a low temperature like 300F / 150C and place the bread on a tray.  It should take about 10 minutes to become crunchy, but make sure to watch it!  It will burn very quickly.

While your bread is in the oven, peel and loosely chop the shallots and garlic.  Toss them into your food processor and strip the thyme leaves in there.  Pulse until they are all diced.

Add the toasted bread in the food processor, right on top.

And process until it looks like breadcrumbs.

The next step is to toast these in a frying pan until they are extra crispy.  Add the crumbs into a medium-low frying pan and add 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Toss and cook for about 5 more minutes.

While this is cooking, loosely dice your cheese and put it in the food processor and blend until it's evenly grated.

Once the breadcrumbs are crunchy, remove them to a bowl.  Wait until they have cooled a bit and fold in the grated cheese.

You can use these to top many different things.  I'll post a few recipes using them soon:
  • steamed artichokes with herbed breadcrumbs and salami
  • baked eggplant parmesean
  • any nice pasta dish
  • Italian mac and cheese
  • in halved and then hollowed-out squash, baked
  • to top a roasted lamb rack (halfway through roasting, slather lamb in mustard, then stick the bread crumbs to it and continue roasting)
(makes about 3 cups)
1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese
6 slices wheat bread
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
7 sprigs thyme
1/3 cup olive oil

Jam to this:  Wax Tailor - Gaurenteed
Guaranteed (feat. A.S.M) by Wax Tailor on Grooveshark

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