18 August 2015

Quick Cheap Easy Way to Improve Almost Any Meal ~ Pangrattato!

Pangrattato (plural Pangrattati) 
Italian ~ breadcrumb

I had lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen at Watergate Bay the other day (with a long time no see good friend which was great) where, on reading the menu, I realised that I’ve been at the pangrattato for many, many years without knowing it! Although pangrattato seems be the normal term on menus I think if I was still cheffing I might say pangrattati as just one sounds a bit meagre!

Fifteen-menu

Pangrattato/ti (from grated bread) is/are crispy flavoured breadcrumbs which are a fabulous way of adding deliciousness and texture to all sorts of meals; I find you can’t go wrong with a crunchy sprinkle! It’s also Very Cheap as you can use stale bread and the additions are a great way of using up other leftover bits and pieces.

This simple garnish (to say the least) can be varied in ways too numerous to mention but I’m going to have a go. I think this is another one of those genius recipes that once you know the basics you can go on to make any number of wonderful things.
how-to-make-pangrattato

Different breads can, of course, be used and all sorts of things such as nuts, seeds, herbs, spices etc. can be added to create the perfect pangrattato for your chosen dish. Make the breadcrumbs by grating the bread, chopping it finely or coarsely, or it running through the food processor. The advantage of this last method is you can add other additions such as nuts or herbs to the crumbs and chop them in at the same time. The disadvantage is the faff of setting it up and the subsequent washing up.

Olive oil is the most commonly used oil in pangrattato, flavoured oils are good, nut oils make a nice change and butter works too, especially for sweet pangrattato.

The breadcrumbs should be crisp which can be achieved by either baking or frying them. Either way you need about 2 tablespoons of oil or butter per 100g of crumbs and if you are adding garlic or herbs or spices it is a good idea to gently warm them in the oil over low heat before tossing with the crumbs, thus infusing the oil and making everything even tastier.

Baking – moisten the crumbs with the oil, flavoured or otherwise and toss with other additions, spread on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4 for about 5 minutes. If you are cooking something else a slightly higher or lower temperature is fine, just keep an eye on the crumbs.

Frying – it is far better, in my opinion, to moisten the crumbs with your chosen oil and then fry them in a dry pan rather than heating the oil in the pan and then adding the crumbs.  My way means that the crumbs have time to absorb the oil and so become uniformly crisp rather than the first bit to hit the pan frying hard and the rest having to catch up!

Don’t forget to taste and season your pangrattato before serving.

 Some Ideas ...

~   Just salt and pepper can be good – warm the oil with some coarsely ground black pepper, cook the crumbs then stir in a little crunchy sea salt.
~   Warm chilli flakes in a similar manner, perhaps with a little orange zest too.

~   3 Garlic Suggestions ...

     1.  Warm finely chopped garlic in the oil or butter before tossing with the crumbs.
     2.  Use the oil from roasted garlic instead of plain oil or butter.
     3.  Black Garlic Pangrattati, (were you expecting this?) stir a little finely chopped black garlic or a teaspoon of black garlic paste into the oil, good dose of black pepper would be good in this.

~   One or two coarsely chopped anchovies and a little garlic – this is an interesting alternative to croutons in Caesar Salad.
~   Bacon or ham or chorizo etc. – coarsely chop and toss with the crumbs in the hot oil, particularly good sprinkled over macaroni cheese type dishes.
~   Pesto Pangrattato – warm a little finely chopped garlic and some coarsely chopped basil in the oil. Add some coarsely chopped pinenuts to the crumbs and as soon as you have cooked them and they are hot and crisp stir in some grated Parmesan.
~   Nutty Pangrattato – actually my first ever Sudden Lunch! post concerned cobnut pangrattato (although I didn’t realise it at the time!) and it was so delicious I remember it to this day. Might make it again in a minute, I’ve got some cobnuts.  
~   Lemon and Parsley – great for fish dishes, warm finely grated lemon zest and some coarsely ground black pepper in the oil and stir in chopped parsley once cooked. Maybe add a few chopped capers and sprinkle over smoked salmon with sour cream!

Sweet Pangrattati

Best to use butter for these and stir in a little sugar too.

~   Hot Cross Bun Crumbs! When making my Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream (our new favourite!) I like it if I have a few cooked crumbs left over; they are great sprinkled on fruit dishes or other ice creams.
~   Stollen Pangrattato, maybe add some crumbled marzipan and/or some chopped almonds – good over peaches, for instance.
~   Brioche Pangrattato – butter, sugar, perhaps some cinnamon or a little vanilla paste.
~   Etc.

As I often say with these genius recipes – “Your turn”!

What to do with your Pangrattato

You can of course sprinkle it willy nilly as the mood takes you but here are a few suggestions ...

~   Add crunch to perfectly cooked fresh veggies eg. asparagus or broccoli or green beans. Anchovy pangrattato is excellent with cauliflower.
~   Egg dishes as in my Toast on Eggs recipe here.
~   Toss with gnocchi – in my opinion they need all the help they can get!
~   Top risotto.
~   Sprinkle a little on cheese (maybe let it cool a little first if using on a cheeseboard), walnut pangrattato would be good on blue cheese, for instance, or pesto pangrattato with goat cheese.
~   Use instead of more traditional croutons on thick creamy soups.
~   Makes an almost instant gratin topping!
~   Sprinkle on salads.
~   Pangrattato is a perfect addition to creamy dishes such as pasta in an Alfredo Sauce.

pasta-alfredo-pangrattato

Pasta con Pangrattato

This is a great emergency meal if you haven’t got much in!
 
~   Whilst cooking your pasta (any pasta will work) make a pangrattato with whatever you fancy but being a little generous with the oil or butter. It is best for this dish to cook the crumbs in a pan on top of the stove.
~   When the pangrattato is crisp and golden stir in some grated Parmesan (or blue cheese or mature cheddar or nothing) and any other additions you fancy.
~   Set a few of the crumbs aside to garnish.
~   Drain the pasta then toss with the pangrattato in the pan.
~   Sprinkle with the reserved crumbs and serve immediately whilst still crisp.



An alternative to breadcrumbs is tiny weeny croutons (lots more info on Croutonology here).




Sweet Pangrattato Ideas ...

sweet-pangrattato



~   Sprinkle over ice cream or top a sundae.
~   Porridge!
~   A quick crunchy topping for cooked fruits.


strawberry-cheesecake


Jamie Oliver's Fifteeen 

Lunch at Fifteen was good and the dessert, a sort of white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake in a jar, was both large and gorgeous which is one of my favourite combinations!










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2 comments:

Sue said...

SO .... my 'crispy breadcrumbs' have a posh name, I'll have to call them pangrattati from now on ... yes I like more than one!!

April J Harris said...

This is an excellent post! I didn't know what Pangrattato were but I love using breadcrumbs to enhance foods - and it's a great way to use up leftover breadcrumbs. Love your ideas here though - you've taken Pangrattato to a new level! I hadn't thought about using sweet breads for bread crumbs as well. Thank you for bringing this post to the Hearth and Soul Hop. Pinned and will share. Hope to 'see' you again this week. The hop is open now.