Pane raffermo: leftover bread
|September 1, 2015||Posted by ameliaps under bread, breads, Italian|
“The picture is grainy. But that’s to be expected when photographing bread.” ~ Jarod Kintz, 99 Cents For Some Nonsense
That made me smile… because everything that regards bread makes me smile.
If you follow me on instagram (https://instagram.com/ztastylife), you will have seen how much bread baking I do.
I am bread.
Literally: my maiden last name is “Pane”, which means bread in Italian.
Bread making is one of the most fascinating and rewarding activities in the kitchen. It’s a never-ending journey for me. It has such allure and peacefulness even.
So much to learn with bread: about ancient grains, their origins, the milling, the chemistry and biology of fermentation (from autolysis to oxidation), how bacteria contributes to the process, ecology-history-geography-and-cultural significance of bread, the sensual hand-on mechanics, the all-senses involvement (feel, touch, smell, look, sound, taste), the patience and the wait, and, in the end, the exciting odyssey that leads to the perfect loaf.
And there are the many facets of the “after-bread”… the endless possibilities of re-use of stale, left-over bread.
Centuries have taught us to be creative with one of the most important staples in our diet.
This is “cucina povera” (peasant, poor cuisine) at its best.
And so let me jump into just a few of my Italian favorite uses for leftover bread (“pane raffermo”):
- Pangrattato (breadcrumbs) – actually used as a topping for many pastas (my favorite: with sardines), filling (such as in “cipolle ripiene”, stuffed onions), and of course breading for endless fried possibilities.
- Pan-perduto -meaning “lost bread”, in which stale bread slices are revived with warm milk then dipped in eggs and pan sautéed (sort of like French toast)
- Mollica (bread crumb) – to be softened and used in things like “polpette” (meatballs – see my recipe here), “polpettone” (meatloaf), “involtini” (roll-ups: meat, fish or vegetables: roasted peppers being my favorite), “gnocchi-di-pane”, “canederli”, ”passatelli”, or as a sauce thickener (such as in the Genoese “salsa di noci”, walnut sauce)
- Fette-di-pane-raffermo – old slices of bread, to be added to ”minestre” or “zuppe” (soups, such as “pancotto” and “pappa al pomodoro”), to be used to make the Emilian ”torta di pane avanzato” (leftover bread cake), or to be added to salads (such as the Umbrian ”panzanella”), or to be turned into the Neapolitan ”mozzarella-in-carrozza” (a kind of fried cheese toast)
- Crostini, bruschetta and fettunta: toasted bread, brushed with oil and with a variety of toppings
- Freselle: a twice baked kind of bread that goes back centuries and used to be a sailor’s staple. It is softened in water to make things like “caponata napoletana” (a tomato salad with tuna, olives, anchovies, oregano)
- and that is just a start!
I am sharing two easy recipes today (I added measures below but I usually go “by heart”):
1) “Spaghetti con acciughe e pangrattato” (in Sicilian: “Pasta c’anciova e muddica atturrata”) – pasta with anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs
This is a fantastic week-night pantry dinner. I usually have everything I need to make this at the last minute. It’s ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta. If you don’t have the fennel fronds, you can use parsley instead. Or even toss in a handful of fennel seeds in the oil. Or nothing at all, as far as herbs.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic
optional: 2 small chili peppers (or use pepper flakes)
a 2-ounce can fillets of anchovies
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup breadcrumbs
fennel fronds, from one fennel bulb
1. Place 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and the sliced and peeled cloves of garlic in a heavy pan and gently sauté until golden (then discard the garlic).
2. Add some chili pepper (I like cutting a couple small ones with scissors)
3. Open the can fillets of anchovies, drain and rinse the anchovies.
4. Add the anchovies to the pan and using a wooden spoon, “smash” them until they are a paste. Remove from heat.
5. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling until slightly less than “al dente”: be brave!!! Keep some of the boiling water before draining.
6. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to the pan with the anchovies and mix in the drained pasta.
7. Top with 1 cup roughly chopped (don’t use the food processor!!! you want the texture) breadcrumbs from day old bread, toasted in 2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
8. Before serving, add some fresh chopped fennel fronds (form one fennel bulb)
2) Pan-perduto – “lost bread”
(Incidentally, in Sardinia, the island where my nonna is from, they do something called “pan indorau”: basically a sweet bread dipped in milk and eggs and pan sautéed)
So this is one of the easiest 5 minute lunches ever. And it’s almost a non-recipe.
Dip 2 slices of stale bread in half a cup of warm milk until it’s “revived”.
Beat 2 eggs and season with salt and pepper (and whatever other spices fancy you, or chopped herbs)
Heat a heavy skillet with olive oil. Sauté the dipped slices in the hot pan a few minutes on each side.
It is shown here with a quick salad of sliced heirloom carrots in a lemon-olive-oil vinaigrette
And just as a “tease”, here below are a few more ideas for leftover bread from my instagram files:
Polpette-di-nonna-Paola – meatballs, made by my grandmother Paola, with “mollica” (the soft crumb)
Panzanella – tomato bread salad
The making of “alici-indorate-e-fritte” – breaded and fried fresh anchovies
What are your favorite uses for “pane raffermo” (leftover, stale bread)?