10/3/05 | Homemade Bread Crumbs
[ Currently Eating: Mongolian Beef Noodles ]
Even though it’s definitely worthy of a Cheap Eats article, I’ve only lately tried making my own bread crumbs. The main reason is: I am just damn lazy. Which is of course no excuse!
I use a lot of bread crumbs in dishes too, which is even more reason for me to get on the ball with making them. They’re great for topping casseroles, for getting meatloaf texture to be more consistent, and of course for breading foods to be fried, like chicken breast fillets or fish.
The consistency of bread crumbs called for in recipes varies. Sometimes the crumbs are simply pieces of bread roughly torn apart, drizzled with butter and baked in the oven. Other recipes call for extremely fine crumbs, almost like semolina. You can buy a can of fine bread crumbs at the market for fairly cheap, and some even come pre-seasoned. But making your own out of older bread that’s already around is definitely cheaper.
So back to being lazy… we always have leftover bread (ends and slices) in the fridge. So that’s one part down. The part that always gets me when making homemade bread crumbs is the need for a food processor. Even if you had the time to stand there chopping up bread with double action cleavers, the act of cutting bread squishes it together instead of cutting it clean, making for pretty terrible crumbs. Nope, you’ve pretty much got to break out the Cuisinart.
The chefs on TV are always using food processors, mixers and blenders. I think one of the reasons they’re so enthusiastic about using these “time-saving” devices is because they don’t have to clean out the damn things after using them. It is somewhat of a pain to break out the food processor just for a little job and then have to clean the blade, cover and mixer bowl.
But making bread crumbs using the processor is actually not too bad, because you can store up your bread ends for a bit in the fridge or freezer and then make a big batch of crumbs at once. Also, it’s not as messy as making, say, some pesto.
I usually just tear up the bread into small chunks and chuck it in the processor. If the chunks are too big it’ll take quite awhile to process. And you don’t want to fill it up too full of course otherwise the bread won’t break down as well. I do about 4 quick pulses on lower speed, and then switch to high for about 10-15 seconds.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. The washing of the Cuisinart is what takes a long time. By the way, in case you don’t know… the blade on a food processor is HELL of sharp. You don’t want to mess with this thing, washing it or otherwise. You’ve gotta be extra careful taking it out of the mixer, because it will definitely mark up the plastic sides of the container. Or even worse, give you a mean slice in your thumb.
One tip is to make sure the bread you’re going to grind up into bread crumbs is relatively dry. If it’s pretty wet from being stored in the fridge or freezer, you might want to lay it out on a plate to dry for a bit. Also, if there are really soggy parts of the bread, cut them off before using.
Storing the bread crumbs is as simple as putting it in a ziploc bag and throwing it in the fridge if you’re going to use it soon, or the freezer for longer term storage. Also, you might want to spread out the bread crumbs on a plate before putting it in the bag to get rid of even more moisture. Some people actually toast them in an oven over low heat as well, though I haven’t tried that method.
Cheap Eats Score: 8/10