Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Today: Food52's Managing Editor Brette Warshaw tells you why you should make a big batch of bread crumbs -- and then use them all week long.
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This weekend, you may have gone to the farmers market, or to a cheery bakery. You were there for produce, or for coffee, or for whatever you shop for on the weekends. And you saw a beautiful, warm, crackly loaf of bread, and suddenly your wallet was in your hand and the bread was in your bag and you ripped off a big hunk and ate it immediately, happily.
Maybe that happened, maybe it didn't. But I'm guessing that you, somehow, have a loaf of bread that's going stale on your counter, whether it's that dreamy loaf you ripped into or a sad one from the supermarket. Honestly, it doesn't matter -- you're going to make bread crumbs out of it.
And once you do, you'll have your own, homemade magic dust for your week of meals ahead of you -- whether you'll sprinkle them on greens or pasta, or fold them into patties, or use them to bind things or coat things or to just make things better. You probably didn't realize what a staple homemade bread crumbs were -- and now that you have them around, you will.
Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale with Pancetta, Bread Crumbs, and a Poached Egg This is everything that is good in life: hearty greens, runny egg, coarse, salty bread crumbs, pig. I love this method of cooking kale -- the leaves soften and melt into the oil, yet the edges get almost crispy. Brown your pancetta, poach your egg, and pile the bread crumbs on top. (No matter how you choose to cook greens, though, bread crumbs will always help the cause.)
Crab Cakes Sometimes crab cakes can be hockey pucks made of too many bread crumbs, then packed too tight and seared too hard. Here, the bread crumbs only serve as a coating -- which lets you actually taste that sweet crab, while keeping the outside light and crisp. Soften carrots and celery, pour in some cream, let it reduce, and then mix it all with egg, seasonings, and crab. Coat in bread crumbs, sauté.
Broccoli Aglio Olio with Gremolata Bread Crumbs The only garnish better than bread crumbs? Bread crumbs spiked with lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. The only thing better than a plate of hot pasta? Said pasta with roasted broccoli, anchovies, and those bread crumbs on top of it.
Potato Scallion Cakes (Fritterra) Bread crumbs are more than for putting on top of stuff; they can be used in stuff, too. Here, you'll bind mashed potatoes and blanched scallions with eggs and bread crumbs, form it all into cakes, and fry them. Top with another egg. Breakfast for dinner just got a lot more exciting.
Extra-Tender Meatballs These meatballs have mayonnaise in them, and also bread crumbs -- which means you should make them, stat. Caramelize some onion and garlic; mix with ground beef, veal, seasonings, egg, and all that other good stuff, then fry them. Eat like a king or a queen.
What are your favorite ways to use bread crumbs? Let us know in the comments!
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).