Breadcrumbs

I think there is going to be a meatball renaissance. Call it a hunch. In fact, we’re going to launch the campaign now. Let’s #MakeMeatballsGreatAgain.

A lot of people hear the word “meatball” and instantly feel like yawning. Not me. My first thought is “What kind of meatballs?” I have seen how hamburgers have become the latest craze for creativity. What is a meatball but a ground up burger, bun and all? Why shouldn’t it be as trendy as its cousin?


What are breadcrumbs good for?

Hansel and Gretel used them as a way to mark their return route (resourceful but not particularly effective … one smart chipmunk and all that effort is wasted); children and adults alike are entertained by feeding them to birds; and apparently, they aid us as internet users to identify where we are and where we have been on the web.

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But their true purpose for existing? Meatballs.

It is the breadcrumbs and the egg(s) that hold the meat together and give them their texture. I don’t think I’m revealing anything to anyone with this statement. What I do hope to make clear is something I just learned while making the Cuban Meatballs for my post earlier this week.

I try to always have breadcrumbs in my freezer. They are usually homemade from bread that has gone a bit stale, leftover garlic bread, or the heels of a loaf that no one wants to eat. Sometimes, I buy bread crumbs for a recipe if I don’t have any homemade on hand and then I freeze what I don’t use to keep them fresh.

As I opened the container of breadcrumbs I had purchased at the grocery store, I saw that I had picked one that was labeled “fine”. They weren’t the flaky type I usually use but had more of a granular texture. No big deal. They are breadcrumbs. I measured them out, made the meatballs and they were delicious. But, they were much more dense than usual.

Written this way, I realize it sounds obvious and you might be rolling your eyes and thinking “great discovery, Einstein”. It’s not like I was trying to write a blog on this subject. I just didn’t realize how big of a difference the texture of the breadcrumbs would make on the texture and size of the meatballs. Using the more dense crumbs, means more will fit in the measuring cup and take leave less room in the meat mixture for “air”.

The point of this is not that one type of breadcrumb is better than another. The point is you can change the texture of the meatball by the type of breadcrumb you use.

FOOD TIP: If you like a denser meatball, use a more powdery, fine breadcrumb. For a lighter, softer meatball, use a flaky-style breadcrumb like Panko or make your own.

Tear leftover bread pieces into cubes and place on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet on the cupboard and allow the bread to dry out for 2-3 hours. Place cubes in a food processor (do this in batches rather than overcrowding the bowl) and pulse until the cubes are evenly sized crumbs. Store in a Ziploc baggie or airtight container in the freezer. If you want to season the breadcrumbs, add seasonings to food processor right before pulsing.

Closing Thought: Is it any wonder that in this technology-driven era, the foodie culture is also booming? Do you suppose it has anything to do with the use of words like:

breadcrumb
cookies
byte
spam
Macintosh

That darn subliminal messaging … now I’m hungry for cookies …

and apples …

funny … still not hungry for SPAM.


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