Thursday, September 9, 2010

Better Breadcrumbs

Have you ever thought about how sliced bread is able to stay on the self in the grocery store for so long?  Most people probably haven't.  But I have.  I have decided recently, after my last bread buying excursion, that I was going to abandon prepackaged bread for good.  It's too confusing to see which bread is really made of whole wheat flour (most breads have some whole wheat flour but are mostly enriched white flour);  to search labels for added sources of sugar (aka high fructose corn syrup); and to ponder the fact that sliced bread can sit on the grocery store shelves for a month, and then on my counter for another two weeks, without going bad.  I'll say no thanks to the highly processed, preservative drenched loaves for now.   It all makes me a little uneasy.

The solution- I buy only fresh baked loaves from the bakery or I get them from the bakery at work.  I know they use whole wheat flour and lots of nuts and seeds.  Yum.  However, when you are not cooking for a crowd and you do not eat every meal at home, it is hard to go through a whole loaf before it goes bad.  So what to do with all the extra bread?!  When life hands you fresh baked bread....make bread crumbs.

The breadcrumbs in this post are made from a multigrain, multi seed boule.  Actually, the leftovers from my breakfast bruschetta.   In addition to being resourceful, these homemade breadcrumbs are super delicious thanks to the extra essence from the nuts and seeds in the loaf.

I really only use breadcrumbs to make chicken cutlets.  However, chicken cutlets are one of my favorite foods so I needed to test out my new better breadcrumbs to see if they could hold up to the packaged ones.  I also baked the chicken in the oven to prevent having to use lots of excess oil.  Not only did the chicken cutlets stand up to my expectations, they surpassed them.  The proof is in the chicken cutlets- the better breadcrumbs really are "better."

Better Breadcrumbs

Whole wheat or multigrain bread preferably with nuts or seeds (if not, you can add some)

I make breadcrumbs with excess bread or bread that is about to go bad.  However, you can make them with a fresh loaf.

Bake the bread until it is crispy to the touch and all the moisture is removed, but don't burn it.  Then place the bread crumbs in a food processor.  That's all-super simple!  Store them in an air tight container.

Chicken Cutlets

Better Bread crumbs, about 1 cup
4 Chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to an even thickness
1 egg
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped 

Clean and trim the chicken and then pound it to make sure all the pieces are of even thickness.  Spray olive oil on a glass baking pan.  Mix the parmigiano reggiano and parsley into the breadcrumbs.  Scramble the egg and place it in a separate dish.

Dip the chicken into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs.  Coat well on both sides and place in the glass dish.  Do not overlap or layer the pieces of chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken.  Make sure to wash your hands and all surfaces that have touched the raw chicken.

What makes this bite better?
Rather than eating breadcrumbs made from highly processed refined flour, these breadcrumbs are made from a multigrain loaf and include nuts and seeds to up the nutritional value.  This not only adds a nice flavor, but also more vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Rather than frying the chicken cutlets, baking them saves tons of calories and time.

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