We usually consume our breads before they stale, but after our recent "open house" party, we had, collectively, about a loaf and a half of two different sourdoughs, and a 40% rye loaf; far too much for just the two of us to eat before staling. I cubed the leftovers, and spread them on a baking sheet, uncovered, for twenty-four hours. Then I put them into the food-processor, and turned it on until I had about six cups, or so of bread crumbs. Not having anything immediate for them, I froze them.
A couple of nights later Yvonne asked me to make baked cod fillets. I usually use panko crumbs in my recipe for baked cod, but when I looked the cupboard was bare, and I wasn't going to make the sixty-mile round trip to the Asian food market just for a bag of of panko crumbs. Out came the sourdough crumbs.
My baked cod recipe is super simple. I season plain crumbs with salt and pepper; add a Tblsp. of sweet, smoked paprika; and a sprinkle of chipotle chilie powder: just enough that makes my guests ask,"Is there chili powder in this?". I mix in about two Tblsp. of melted butter to one cup of crumbs. I then take the frozen fillets, brush them quickly with hot, melted butter and roll them in the crumbs, patting them into the solidifying butter as I go. Then twenty-five minutes in a 375°F oven, or until the fish flakes easily.
This time, with the dark sourdough crumbs and a hint of rye flavor, I thought the paprika and chipotle wouldn't work, so I mixed up some Herbs Provence: dried thyme, fennel, and rosemary. Added them to the crumbs, with salt and pepper, to taste. And proceeded as usual.
We've got a new favorite, but won't abandon the old one. I thought we'd miss the super crunch panko supplies, but were pleasantly surprised when we found the sourdough crumbs--somewhat soft to the touch when thawed--crisped in the oven to near panko-like texture. I also made some herbed rice (fresh thyme and tarragon) to side the fish.
I think sourdough bread crumbs have become a staple in our home.