By Gregory Jackson
Bread crumb makes the parmesan (except eggplant parmesan, which in Italy just gets sautéed, sprinkled with marinara sauce, basil, and cheese). Bread crumbs are useful in recipes requiring breading. It is always best to bake your own bread because you know the ingredients. However store bought bread, preferably without high fructose corn syrup and with simple ingredients, is best. Otherwise if you use pre-flavored bread crumb you will have unwanted preservatives and additives. The only thing we add to our bread crumb is steel cut oats and untoasted wheat germ.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats contain iron and adds 15% dietary fiber including 2 grams of soluble fiber and 2 grams of insoluble fiber every ¼ cup. Soluble fiber lowers LDL and total cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease because oats contain beta-D-glucans. To claim a food reduces heart disease the food must contain at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving. Every serving contains 100% whole grain and gives the recipe a hearty taste. While only 5% of oats are eaten by humans they have the highest legume-like protein called avenalin (a storage protein) of all grain and concentration of nutrients including magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, Vitamin B1, calcium, and Vitamin E. Since oats lack prolamins (gluten) found in wheat, so are safer to eat for celiac or gluten-free diets. If you do have celiac disease consider excluding wheat germ and using gluten-free oats for those with wheat-sensitive diet.
Oat, Avena sativa, originated from the Fertile Crescent. They can be planted in autumn (for late summer harvest) or spring (for early autumn harvest), but they like to be planted in cool, wet summer regions like northwest Europe, Russia, Canada, or parts of the United States Midwest from Wisconsin to New York. In the soil, oats remove a lot of nitrogen and phosphorous and soil may be prepared with prior year legume (like peas) or ample supply of compost since nitrogen is important for plant height.
Two 2 tablespoons of wheat germ provide give 15% Thiamine, 4% Niacin, 10% Folic Acid, 6% Iron, 4% Riboflavin, 12% Vitamin E, and 12% Magnesium. Thiamine or Vitamin B1 helps the body convert carbohydrates into usable energy, and metabolize fats and protein for healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system function. Vitamin B1 deficiency is rare, although alcoholics, Crohn’s disease, anorexia, and those undergoing kidney dialysis may be deficient. Those who do have Vitamin B deficiency allows for pyruvic acid to build up in the bloodstream and may cause loss of mental alertness, and lack of thiamine can cause beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart failure, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Making Bread Crumb from Stale Bread
To make bread crumb from stale bread begin by drying out bread in a low oven. Some ovens have a “Pre-Heat” setting. Put your stale bread on a baking sheet (tearing to pieces is optional, but not necessary). By the time your stove is pre-heated to 350 degrees some stoves beep. Once your stove has reached 350 degrees remove bread and raise heat to 400 degrees.
Another option is to simply use your toaster on your favorite setting, between light or darkly toasted.
After your stale bread is toasted put bread in a food processor or blender to pulverize, chop. Lisa Bamonte, from Bamonte’s Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Williamsburg, suggests not using old bread crumbs or preparing bread crumb in advance. Use freshly stale bread crumb. Bamonte has been serving chicken and veal parmesans this way for 115 years, since opening in April, 1900.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, veal, turkey, or pork
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, whisked
2 cups bread crumb
½ cup untoasted wheat germ (Hodgson Mill or Bob’s Red Mill)
½ cup steel cut oats, grounded
5 cups tomato sauce (or two 28-ounce cans, with low sodium) or tomatoes from your garden
Vegetables. Add 1 package of sliced mushrooms (or farmer’s market) and 1 small onion
1 cup grated parmesan
½ pound Micelli mozzarella, bite size
Extra Virgin olive oil, black pepper, salt, basil, and nerello mascaleses wine as needed
Heat oven to 400 degrees. With meat tenderizer pound meat cutlets to a quarter inch thick and no thinner; pounding the meat thinner will make them tough. Salt and pepper meat to taste. Using a coffee bean grounder add ½ cup of steel cut oats and ground until it becomes a fine powder. Add ½ cup of untoasted wheat germ, steel cut oats, and bread crumb into a shallow bowl and mix together. In two other separate shallow bowls place flour and egg. Set shallow bowl of bread crumb next to the shallow egg bowl: Your order of shallow bowls should be first flour, then egg, and lastly bread crumb. Dip/dredge meat in that same order, first dipping and flipping the meat into the flour bowl, then egg, and last bread crumb mix. Each ingredient before allows the next to stick better.
In a skillet gently pour olive oil to coat. Place skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add meat in batches, turning over to sear halfway through the other side. During frying you may need to deglaze using a red wine like nerello mascaleses from Mount Etna on Sicily or any fine red wine will do. You may not need to deglaze your first batch, but most likely your skillet could use a little moisture on the second and third batches. Using the same dirty skillets add sliced mushrooms and onions, let the vegetables absorb the flavors, deglaze with wine and sauté.
Ladle sauce on bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking pan, layer on top with one-third parmesan, and place half of the meat cutlets on top, topping it with half the mozzarella. Mozzarella cheese has creaminess characteristics. Add remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of parmesan, rest of meat cutlets, covered with the rest of mozzarella, layering. Transfer to 400 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes until cheese is golden brown. Serve warm not hot. Serve with spaghetti.