Mighty Mighty Breadcrumbs

by Russ Parsons
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From the LA Times

breadcrumb.jpgI've just discovered the magic of fresh bread crumbs. You might say it's about time, after 30 years of cooking. But I would remind you that I said the "magic" of fresh bread crumbs, not the "utility."

Everyone knows about using bread crumbs for coating a schnitzel or any other fried, baked or broiled thing. Or stuffing a bird or whole fish. Or scattering across the top of a gratin or tian before browning. I've even used them as toppings for fruit desserts, like a less-sweet version of a crisp.

But what I'd never really realized was the true potential of bread crumbs, how instead of being bland character actors toiling in the background, they can actually become the stars of a dish, or at least a very impressive second lead.

Top steamed or braised vegetables with some carefully toasted bread crumbs and the dish is transformed by the infusion of crunch and that golden brown flavor.

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