Bread, bread and bread
Bread crumbs have two possible mothers. A hard one and a soft one. Italians and Sicilians use hard wheat to make bread. And pasta. Northern countries use soft wheat.
Sicilians use milled whole wheat, what they call semolina. This has a higher gluten content. But it results in a more elastic dough. And bread last longer, in bygone days even up to a whole week.
No matter who the mother is, all bread crumbs are useful.
New old bread
There is a long way before bread transforms in bread crumbs. We can state that breadcrumbs is the final stage of bread. Between that and fresh bread lays a whole range of possibilities.
From French toast to croutons. From pudding to toasties. After this happy afterlife, bread is given a third life.
In Sicily elder people will kiss bread before binning it. As a sign of utter respect. And because it represents Jesus Christ.
Who eats makes bread crumbs
Cu mancia fa muddica. This Sicilian saying translates as ‘Who eats, leaves bread crumbs’. And it means that whatever you do, you leave traces or mistakes.
Rather than by eating, you usually grind old bread. The fastest way is with the help of a blender. Slower but very interesting is the use of a mortar. The shape of your crumbs will recall the Japanese panko.
For coating you grind the whole bread, crust included. Remove the crust if you plan to use it for fillings.
bread crumbs coating
Sicilians like to coat with bread crumbs. Vegetables, meat, fish. They flavour ground bread with varies spices. After a quick dip in an olive oil bath, veggies, fish or meat is coated.
There are quite some advantages. The coating protects meat, fish or vegetables of drying out. Then there is the extra structural improvement, the crunch. Let’s us not forget the golden brown, inviting colour.
As seen here with cauliflower
Bread crumb filler
As stated above, avoid crust when it comes to filling. Use the (once) soft inside of your bread. And it is wise to let it soak in milk for about an hour.
Bread crumbs give filling volume, without alternating the taste.
They are indispensable when making polpette. Meat, vegetable or fish. And yes, even bread itself. Polpette di pane, bread balls, deserve a crown.