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You Don't Need To Buy Bread Crumbs Ever Again

Okay, I like meatloaf, I like Shake And Bake whatever, be it pork chops or chicken.  That being said, I don't buy the packaged stuff all that often.  In fact, the last few times I set out to make something that required bread crumbs or Shake & Bake, I improvised my own recipes using stuff I had in the house.

Today, I'm going to show you two of those recipes.  One is for meatloaf and the other is for homemade Shake & Bake pork chops.

With the meatloaf what had happened was I had already started to make it, I had combined by hand the three meats and added sauteed onions. I then went to reach for the Panko bread crumbs that I usually have on hand and alas, there were none! I panicked! I wasn't going to abandon this recipe and I was already in my sweats so I wasn't inclined to go to the store.

What should I use? I looked in the pantry and I saw a box of Cheez-its.  I thought to myself, "this should work, it might give the texture I'm looking for and it might even add some dimension of flavor that will be interesting at least."

So I put about a cup of Cheez-its into a food processor along with a Cajun spice mix I had put together from an Emeril Lagasse recipe and chopped it up into a moderately fine consistency, kind of like bread crumbs, ha!.  I added it to the rest of the ingredients for the meat loaf, pressed the mixture into a casserole dish and covered it with a sauce made of ketchup, brown sugar, Frank's hot sauce and soy sauce. Baked that sucker for about an hour until the internal temperature hit 160, let it sit for 10 minutes and served that bad boy. 

Woooooo-eeeee! That stuff was amazing! I don't remember swooning as much as I had over a meatloaf dish. I would make that again, no questions asked.


The other make-shift, "oh, my goodness, I've no bread crumbs" moment was with making pork chops.  I had planned to make pan fried pork chops with cabbage and onions, one of my favorites, but I was outvoted by my kids in favor of Shake & Bake. Somewhat deflated, I went back to the kitchen and reached for the box of premixed ez-meal and did not find any. I was now faced with having to again go to the store. This time I was wearing my Captain Kirk Doctor Dentons and was by no means going to change just to get a 10 ounce box of salt and crumbs!

So I looked yet again into the pantry and found three slices of somewhat stale bread. Yes! Yes! This will do the trick! I thrust those bad boys into the food processor, added some garlic power, Kosher salt, pepper, Hungarian paprika and let 'er rip!

I then moistened the pork chops with a douse of tap water, patted them slightly with a paper towel and then tossed them around in the crumb mixture inside a gallon size plastic bag.  After letting them sit for about five minutes so the coating got all cozy on the chop, I put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes and served them up with some homemade mashed potatoes and string beans with lemon and butter. Ooooh boy! 

So those two revelations have opened up a myriad of possibilities when it comes to coating some protein for roasting in the oven or giving texture to a protein mash-up like meatloaf. I highly recommend you give these a try (see recipes below) and remember, this is yet another case of having complete control over the ingredients in what would otherwise be a premade, corporate-chemical food recipe.

Here's how to do it:

Homemade Cheez-it Meatloaf:

Ingredients:

Meatloaf Mix - chopped beef, port and lamb (approx 2 lbs)

1/2 onion, lightly sauteed in olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tbsp Creole Seasoning (see Emeril's recipe)

1 cup finely chopped classic Cheez-it snacks

2 eggs (lightly beaten)

2 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce

Ketchup topping:

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp Frank's Hot Sauce

1 tbsp light brown sugar

Recipe:

  1. Place Meat Loaf Mix into large mixing bowl
  2. Mush together (with hands) until all three types of meat are integrated - don't mush too much, over mixing can make a tough meatloaf.
  3. If you're like me: rinse freezing cold hands in warm water - I can't stand the cold.
  4. Place on top of the meat mixture: minced garlic, crushed red pepper, Cajun seasoning, Cheez-its, eggs and Worchestershire Sauce
  5. Mix, yet again, with hands until thoroughly mixed (now wash those hands thoroughly.)
  6. Place mixture into 9x9 greased glass pan (I use canola oil) and press down firmly until evenly distributed.
  7. Cover with Ketchup mixture (mix ingredients prior to topping meat loaf)
  8. Place in 375o oven for approx 1 hour or until internal temp in middle of dish is 160o  
  9. Let sit for 10 minutes and then serve, for crying out loud! Serve it!

Stale Bread Pork Chops:

Ingredients:

4 pork chops (bone-in or boneless)

3 slices stale bread (no mold, thank you)

2 tsp garlic power

1 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp Hungarian paprika (hot)

Recipe:

  1. Blend in a food processor the bread slices, garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika until the mixture is a moderately fine chop (similar to Shake & Bake)
  2. Rinse chops in tap water and dab lightly with paper towel, keeping chop lightly moist.
  3. Empty bread crumb mixture into a gallon size plastic bag and place moistened chops one at a time in bag, shaking chop to cover it completely.
  4. Place each chop on baking sheet, keeping at least 1 inch distance between chops. Let sit for 5 minutes to let coating adhere to chops.
  5. Place in preheated oven at 400o and bake until internal temp is 145o, approx 25 to 35 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately - ENJOY!!!