Tear or cut the bread into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Put a few handfuls into the bowl of a food processor (the bread shouldn’t be crowded or squished), and pulse into coarse crumbs, including smaller pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and larger pieces about the size of small peas. Pour the crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Repeat until you have made 4 cups of breadcrumbs.
Toss the breadcrumbs with the olive oil or butter and the salt. Set a large (preferably 12-inch), heavy-based skillet (I use cast iron) over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring or tossing often—they should sizzle and make a steady popping noise—until they start to color and crisp, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring, until the crumbs dry out and crisp and have browned nicely, about 6 minutes.
Let cool and use in one of the one of my crispy-coated chicken recipes: Crispy Chicken Breasts with Lemons & Capers, Crispy Cheddar & Jalapeño Coated Chicken Breasts, Crispy Orange-Sesame Chicken Breasts, or Herbed Chicken Breasts with a Crispy Black Olive & Parmigiano Crust. The crumbs will continue to crisp as they cool.
Make Ahead Tips
Breadcrumbs will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Or, if you want to whip up a few batches of crumbs, you can store them in a zip-top bag in your freezer for a couple of months.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on 1/4 cup serving;
Photo: Scott Phillips