Crumbs of comfort: Bill Granger's best breadcrumb recipes

Got some leftover bread? Simply chuck it in the processor and you have the makings of an instant hit on your hands

There’s a restaurant saying: “If you want to sell it, crumb it”  – and indeed we get through more schnitzels in our restaurants than any other meat dish.

I love bread: I love the chewy crust of a rich sourdough, the light and crisp texture of a baguette and the fluffy rich dough of brioche buns. And any that’s past its best always finds its way into the bowl of my food processor, where it will be whizzed up into fine or coarse crumbs and frozen in sealed bags for another day. This way, I always have a supply and avoid the temptation of buying bland, characterless fresh crumbs from the supermarket.

As for dried crumbs, I try to avoid the sawdust of our youth in favour of Japanese panko breadcrumbs. When fried, these light flakes give anything they coat an enticing dry crunch.

Parmesan veal schnitzel with parsley, caper and red-onion salad

I’ve gone for beautiful British veal here, but when feeling less extravagant I’d be just as happy with a pork schnitzel.

Serves 4

  • 85g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 65g finely grated Parmesan
  • Handful parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 veal cutlets
  • 125ml olive oil
  • For the topping
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • Handful parsley leaves

Place the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and thyme on a large plate and mix well. Place the milk and eggs in a shallow bowl and beat lightly together. Place the flour on a large plate. Mix in the salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

Dip the veal first in the seasoned flour, then the egg wash and finally the breadcrumb mixture. Continue until all the veal is coated. Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the veal for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden-brown. Combine the topping ingredients and serve over the schnitzel. k

Potato, lemon, mozzarella and herb croquettes

These croquettes are great with some prosciutto, a bowl of olives and a green salad.

Makes 16

  • 800g floury potatoes
  • 125g mozzarella, drained,  patted dry and roughly chopped
  • Grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Handful parsley leaves, chopped
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125g panko breadcrumbs
  • Light-flavoured oil for deep frying
  • 1 small bunch sage, leaves only
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork. Place on the top shelf of the oven and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, halve the potatoes and scoop the centres into a bowl. Mash with some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the mozzarella, lemon zest, garlic and parsley. Form the mixture into 16 rounds. Place on a tray and chill for 30 minutes.

Put the flour on a plate with some seasoning, the beaten egg in a shallow bowl and the crumbs in a baking tray. Dust the croquettes in the flour, dip in the egg then roll in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a large high-sided pan to 180C/350F/Gas4, or until a piece of bread fries golden in 20 seconds. Fry the croquettes in batches for 3 to 4 minutes until golden, turning them occasionally so they cook evenly. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little salt before serving. Fry the sage leaves in oil until crisp and drain. Serve the croquettes with the sage leaves and lemon wedges.

Courgette pasta with anchovy, chilli and garlic pangrattato

In southern Italy, you’ll often find the simplest of pasta dishes topped with rich breadcrumbs worth their crunch in gold. When the peasant’s solution is so tasty, who needs pricey Parmesan?

Serves 4

  • 400g short-shaped pasta,  such as casarecce or fusilli
  • 25g butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large courgettes, roughly grated
  • For the pangrattato
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g fresh sourdough  breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt

For the breadcrumbs, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, garlic, anchovies and salt. Cook, stirring, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Cook the pasta to the packet instructions, drain and reserve a ladleful of the cooking water.

Heat the butter and oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, throw in the courgettes and season with salt. Stir for 30 seconds. Toss in the pasta and the reserved cooking water. Stir until well coated. Serve immediately, topped with the pangrattato.

Bill’s restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com

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