The humble Breadcrumb which could be the feast of a Mouse or a Bird is also very useful in the Kitchen in many ways. Nowadays you can buy already made Breadcrumbs of different sorts from the Golden ones to some more natural looking like passing by the Panko Crumbs. The choice is wide out there however, doing your own Breadcrumbs is ever so satisfying. All you need to do so is a Bread stale or not, crusty or not, dry and toasted or not.
Panko Breadcrumbs, light and giving an even covering of Food to be fried or panéed.
You can call me old fashion but apart from the shop bought Panko Crumbs, I do prefer making my own Home Made Breadcrumbs. What did started that trend for me were three factors. First, my Man is a 'Gianormous' Bread eater. His favourites being the Tigger/Giraffe Bread, and the other the simple soft Loaf of white sliced Bread, however his use of Bread is pretty unimaginative (Bread and Butter, Bread and Cheese, not even melted, Bread and Peanut Butter, sometimes Bread and Honey...). If he lifts his paws to make a Bread and Bacon Sandwich, we are on a winner. I am a bit sarcastic here, because when I am in Hospital and can't feed him this is his diet. So I am concerned and worried.
The Tigger Bread, named by its crust pattern.
In terms of reality, my Partner does leave Bread to dry or stale when I am here to feed him. It would be a crying shame to abandon a Loaf of Bread like that. (yes, I come from a working class family however with upper crust thrown into it). So here comes the second factor to make Breadcrumbs: We do feed the Birds. So I am blitzing happily the old Breads for them to not get wasted and to fill the belly of our Birds out there. With a knob of Butter or two to keep them fed in Winter and Spring when they most need it.
One of our resident Robins. Croutons for the bigger Birds, Grains, Seeds and Breadcrumbs for the smaller ones. The Bird feeding zone initially started like that. Buttered Breadcrumbs were a big part of it.
The third factor was simply cooking. I enjoy it and to be able to do your own Breadcrumbs is actually a simple little pleasure. It gives you the freedom to choose the Ingredients to flavour your Breadcrumbs to fit the Dish you are about to make. It is all about the balance and the seasoning. You do not have to be stuck in a rut with just shop bought Golden Breadcrumbs. You can make the twist and shake and make your Breadcrumbs Shout with a bit of life... ( Link to a little track below).
I will not say that I will go automatically for traditional breadcrumbs. On the contrary, I tend to make some fresh ones purposeful for my Dish in mind. The Dish can be either savoury or sweet. For example lets just say for savoury, I am fond of panéing either Meat, Fish or Veg. The Breadcrumbs can carry flavour, taste and gusto to the dish easily with seasoning.
Panéing Station. In order the Flour is getting the first seasoning. Usually it is simple: Salt and Pepper. The second plate or bowl for Panéing countains lightly whisked Egg Yolks, seasoned as well if needs be. Last but not least is the bowl of prepared Breadcrumbs.
The Pané method does impart flavour but can also protect the tenderness of Meat or Fish. It is very simple as much as just a coating of Flour for the first step, a coating of whisked Eggs for the second step and finally the coating of the Breadcrumbs to finish everything off. It is just a step by step which can achieve a delicious Dish upon a plate.
Panéed Trout Fillet with minted Broad Beans and Buttered Baby Potatoes.
To wrap something with Breadcrumbs is somewhat joyful. May it be fishfingers, may it be a Schnitzel or may it be a Potato Croquette, it always feels like a little parcel of goodness underneath those Crumbs. For those Crumbs... the world is your Oyster, litterally. Any Bread can fit the bill. There is just the what you are looking for, which is about texture and the consistency of the coverage you want to achieve.
Potato Croquettes upon a little Bistro Salad.
The choice of Bread can be voluntary, like buying or making a specific Bread to make specific Crumbs or involuntary, hence to use what you have at hand to make the best of it. I tend to make different little jars of Breadcrumbs for the pantry. Some of them are plain, either white Bread, either Wholemeal Bread, and Whole Grain ones but some of them do contain some elements to flavour the Breadcrumbs.
Wholemeal Breadcrumbs, flavoured with cracked Black Peppercorns, Lemon Zest, Sea Salt, Parsley and Green Olive. This little combination of flavours for Breadcrumbs works very well with Fish.
Depending if you are making a jar of Breadcrumbs to store in the Pantry or just a batch of them for the Meal you intend to prepare, flair and creativity make you discover nice flavour combinations. Blitzed dried Apricots and Pistachios can give a Morrocan feel to your Breadcrumbs which could be perfect to coat some Chicken Wings and Breast Strips served with a Ras'al Hanout Raita. It can make a nice little sharing Summer Meal.
Apart from giving a proper coating to an Ingredient, which is excellent for Frying, Deep Frying or Baking, Breadcrumbs are also extremelly helpful in terms of covering. Lets just mention covering for texture and also for cooking purposes again. Breadcrumbs provide a seal either tight or loose which does help in the process of cooking something. One perfect dish which is an example of the process is the 'Crumble'. Basically the Crumbs act as a lid which keeps the heat within the dish and gently steam, cook the content within.
Home Made Rhubarb and Hazelnut Crumble Muffins.
For texture or /and for flavour Crumbs have the seal of approval. Do not disregard that humble Ingredient: Make it yours! To create your Breadcrumbs is not rocket science. You do not need a degree to launch a space mission with the NASA. The tip of your fingers, the end of a fork or a blender/ mixer can very well do the job to some sort of enjoyable and palatable perfection.
Preparing a spicy Turkey Schnitzel.
There are two school of thought which work equally well in preparing the Breadcrumbs. One is just the dry and toast then blitz the Bread to that magical powder that give that extra humph. The other school of thought is to prepare the Crumbs when they have still some moisture and then to dry them with the Ingredients you do want to include with them. In my humble opinion, both methods work but I prefer the later.