GF Pantry: Gluten-Free Panko Crumbs

Gluten-free stuffed pork chop with cider vinegar spinach

When it comes to pantry staples, I like to focus on items that are not pricey gluten-free specialty items. Often, there are better substitutes or alternate cooking methods that will save you money and time. One exception, for me, is gluten-free panko bread crumbs.

Traditional panko is made from crustless bread, resulting in light, airy bread crumbs. They are popular in Japanese cooking, and I loved them in my pre-GF life due to their ability to get crispy and stay crispy. I’ve found they don’t require a lot of extra seasoning to taste good.

Gluten-free panko, widely available in stores that sell gluten-free specialty items, retains the same airiness of its traditional cousin. On those nights when I’m craving a breaded dish, or if I need a crunchy topping on something like macaroni and cheese, I usually turn to my stash of gluten-free panko. Sealed tightly, one box lasts me a long time.

(This is good because this stuff ain’t cheap!)

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own. The easiest method, if you don’t have crustless white gluten-free bread, is to toss about three cups of gluten-free corn or rice Chex into a food processor — this makes about one cup of panko. It’s not exactly the same flavor, but very close. I loved this post at Beard & Bonnet about making “panko” from Chex cereal.

I love this idea so much, I am plotting other breaded dishes to justify buying a box of Chex…I’ve never been much of a cereal person, so the normal reasons don’t work for me!

What GF specialty items do you consider part of your pantry staples? Or, how do you work around those ingredients for which you can’t find a gluten-free substitute?

Tip of the Week

For regular bread crumbs, I save the ends of gluten-free bread loves in an airtight bag in the freezer. Toss a couple of pieces of bread into your food processor, breaking it down if necessary, process until the crumbs are your desired size. Then toss with some salt and seasonings, if you wish, and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the crumbs at the halfway mark. Store in your refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container until needed.

Menu of the Week

I’m not sure where I found this recipe, but it’s been stashed in my “to make someday” pile for a long time. The spinach and gouda are mixed with a bit of horseradish-spiked mustard to amp up the flavor of the chops from the inside — and smokiness of the cheese really complements the overall dish. Since I always buy way too much spinach, using it as a side veggie is a no-brainer. Add up to a teaspoon — or to taste — and a bit of salt to the dish for lots of flavor.

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