Turn that stale baguette into a recipe game changer with three easy and unexpected ways to use bread crumbs.
The next time you discover you’ve left a loaf on the counter, don’t just toss it, crush it! Homemade bread crumbs are so much better than the bland version you get at the supermarket ‚Äîthink fresh-grated Parmesan versus the powdered stuff in the green canister‚Äîand they’re also a cost-effective way to use up something that might otherwise be relegated to the compost pile.
Depending on how coarsely or finely you grind your bread crumbs, they can go from binder, breading, filling, textural counterpoint, or garnish at the touch of a finger. Just break or tear up your stale loaf and whirl it in the food processor, stopping every now and then to check on the texture and dislodge any big, hard chunks that may get stuck on the blades. For breading and binding meatball or crab cake mixtures, you’ll want to process the crumbs very well to a uniform and fine grind.
When you want the crumbs to add a bit of golden crunch to a braised dish or casserole, go for a coarser result, with some larger, jagged shards that will crisp up in the oven.
For the largest, most irregular crumbs, try this old housewife’s trick: wrap the stale bread in a kitchen towel or resealable plastic bag and whack away with a rolling pin. Not only will you reduce the loaf to bits in a matter of minutes, you can work out some of the day’s aggressions at the same time. Whichever way you make them, make sure your crumbs are completely dry‚Äîspread them on a baking sheet and leave them out overnight if they are still somewhat moist‚Äîbefore transferring them to an airtight container where they can be stored for weeks. Alternatively, you can store your crumbs in the freezer nearly indefinitely, but don’t let them linger too long, since they can pick up off-tastes and smells after a while.