Bread crumbs are great for adding crunch and texture to your dish. Here are 3 types that we use most often in the Test Kitchen.
Dry bread crumbs are made from bread that is toasted then ground down to a fine crumb. They are best for traditional breading, adding to meatloaf, meatballs or hamburgers, fish cakes and topping casseroles. Using dry bread crumbs gives the food an all over consistent coating.
Panko bread crumbs are larger, whiter and more flakey than dry breadcrumbs. Traditionally used in Japanese food, panko bread crumbs are made from crustless white bread that is coarsely ground and then toasted or dried. Panko has a delicate, crisp texture that is great for anything you want to be extra-crispy, like fish, chicken or The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese.
Fresh bread crumbs are simply coarsely ground fresh bread. They are best made at home, since they dry out and get stale quickly. Simply tear pieces of bread (crust on or off, whatever you like) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you get the desired crumb size. Make lots and store the extra in a resealable bag in the freezer. Fresh bread crumbs are great sprinkled on top of The Ultimate Potato Gratin.
Bread crumbs are fun to experiment with. Next time you make homemade chicken fingers, instead of the usual dry bread crumbs try using panko for an extra-cripy texture! Or top your next casserole or gratin with fresh homemade breadcrumbs.
Photography by Leah Kuhne