Toasted Fresh Breadcrumbs
I thought I knew how to toast breadcrumbs until I watched Fiorangela Piccione transform fresh breadcrumbs into crusty golden morsels. First of all, the Siracusa cook used pan carré, an ordinary white bread, instead of the semolina bread I was expecting. The only oil was a smear in the bottom of the pan and the heat seemed much too high. But, sure enough, Fiora knew what she was doing. She didn’t want breadcrumbs that were “molle molle” (too soft) and, because they were for a pasta sauce containing oil, she wished to avoid any hint of oiliness in the crumbs. This recipe was originally printed in my cookbook, Seafood alla Siciliana; it is terrific for all kinds of seafood pasta dishes.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
2 or 3
firm white, semolina, rye or other whole-grain bread
1 to 2
Tear or slice the bread into several pieces, placing them in a food processor bowl. Process until reduced to coarse crumbs (makes about 2 cups).
Smear the bottom of a medium-sized skillet with olive oil. Place the breadcrumbs in the pan and turn the heat to medium high. Heat the crumbs, stirring constantly (don’t even think about walking away!). Over the course of about 5 minutes, the crumbs will begin to change color. Continue stirring until they are golden brown and crisp (some of the crumbs will be browner than others, and that’s okay). If the crumbs start to burn, reduce the heat or temporarily remove the skillet from the heat.
Remove the skillet from the heat and continue stirring for about half a minute, as the crumbs cool.
Note: Any toasted breadcrumbs not used immediately can be cooled and held at room temperature for a couple of days, or frozen indefinitely.