We are a household of bread-heads. Dahlia loves sweet little jam and cream cheese sandwiches in her school lunches. Daniel, a marathon runner, is always in search of good, sturdy carbs. And I couldn't live without my buttered toast with whatever (anchovies, tomatoes, inch-thick pillows of salted butter, avocado) on top.
So any day of the week, you’ll find several kinds of loaves on our counter in various states of freshness. Which is a good thing—since different types of bread all mixed together makes for especially great breadcrumbs.
I keep a big Mason jar full of homemade breadcrumbs, always at the ready in my now well-organized and beautiful new pantry. (Thanks Andy!) If I’m on top of things, I’ll slice up the remaining heels of bread while they are still manageably soft into slim slices, and spread them out on a sheet tray. I then dry them out totally in a 300° F oven. The time can vary depending on the type of bread and how dried out it was to begin with. After twenty minutes I’ll check the slices for any signs of “give”, and if they yield to the touch at all they go right back in for another ten, or until they’re dry and crisp as can be.
Here’s where today’s Kitchen Hip Tip comes in…for years, to make my breadcrumbs, I’ve always pulsed the dried out slices in my food processor, using the standard blade. It was a real chore. It would take forever, my trusty old machine would overheat, and I’d have to go in there every so often to manually unclog chunks of bread that would collect on the blade.
When putting away something in the same drawer where I store my other food processor blades and attachments, I saw the grater disc and had a revelation. What if I dropped slices through the feeder tube and “grated” the dried bread instead? And you know what? It worked. Marvelously. Easily. But not quietly (tell your preschooler to cover her ears). However you wind up with really nice breadcrumbs, and there’s a bit of variety in the size and texture (if you’re looking for really uniform, fine breadcrumbs, simply slip the blade in after everything is grated and whirl them up).
Store-bought breadcrumbs are always there in the grocery aisle if you need them, but homemade are so much better. In everything. I love big coarse breadcrumbs in place of croutons sprinkled over a salad (fry them first in a little butter or olive oil to crisp them)—you’re more likely to get a bit of crunch in every bite. Homemade breadcrumbs are great for coating a chicken breast, or for stuffing vegetables (and as artichoke season is approaching, I might be needing an extra Mason jar). And I LOVE breadcrumbs over a simple pasta, particularly after I’ve fried them in olive oil with some anchovy and garlic (and maybe even some chili flakes).
Now that making breadcrumbs is a much less cumbersome task, I will never be without them thanks to my burly grater disk. Give your lovely loaves a delicious second life.