I wasn’t too sure what to call this blog post, bread-crumbed food isn’t exactly a sexy subject – some people might even go as far as to say it is boring. These are people, however, who have only eaten supermarket bought, pre-made, breaded items.
These are indeed pretty boring, no doubt about it (floppy, bland and uninspiring). But I am here to try and persuade you that bread-crumbing is in fact exciting, delicious and definitely not boring. (It’s also simple, frugal and infinitely adaptable).
The first thing to say is that you can breadcrumb all kinds of things but chicken, turkey, pork and meaty white fish are the best. Secondly you shouldn’t just use breadcrumbs. Clearly the crumb forms the base of the crunchy coating, but then you can build up the flavour by mixing in other ingredients.
Firstly; finely chopped fresh herbs will add loads of punch – thyme on pork, parsley on fish, basil or oregano on chicken, or mix them up and put them all together. Then what about spices, bits of chilli or lemon and lime zest? Finely grated parmesan is excellent as well, but don’t add too much. It won’t necessarily taste cheesy, more savoury and salty, plus when it melts it helps the crumb stick together nicely. Also try swapping some, or all, of the breadcrumb for polenta which gives a very crispy, crunchy texture and a beautiful yellow/orange colour.
Then for the cooking: Mix up your breadcrumb and flavourings in a large shallow bowl with plenty of seasoning. I suggest bashing out meat like chicken, turkey or pork until flattened so it cooks quickly and remains succulent. It also means more crumby goodness per piece of meat. You’ll need to dip in seasoned flour first and then some beaten egg before placing in the crumb mix and moving around until it is covered. Press it down to make sure it’s all good and stuck.
Then place in a pre-heated frying pan with some sunflower oil. Don’t move the meat until it has formed a lovely golden crust underneath, flip and cook through on the other side. Because it is so crispy and crunchy I like to serve with a dip, whether that is simply ketchup or mayonnaise or a homemade aioli or salsa.
Last thing to say is this is a frugal dish if you remember to keep your old stale bits of bread, whiz them up and put them in the freezer until you need them. Then you can breadcrumb things whenever you want to your heart’s content!
In the meal pictured I used flattened turkey steaks and covered them in breadcrumbs mixed with lemon zest, parsley and basil with plenty of seasoning. I also made a roasted garlic and lemon mayonnaise by roasting a couple of garlic cloves in their skins for 20 minutes before popping them out and mashing them into two or three tablespoons of mayo, little bit of lemon zest and a squeeze of juice. Alongside a crispy salad it was healthy and delicious.
Try chicken pieces in breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan and chopped basil, or fish in breadcrumbs, chilli, coriander and lime zest.