(Theguardian) – Old bread is the perfect vehicle for soaking up juices and marinades, adding texture to crisp, spatchcocked chicken or as a biscuity foil for creamy desserts
It doesn’t take much to sell a loaf of freshly baked bread: soft, airy, crusty and a wonderful vehicle for just about anything, it’s everyone’s darling. Stale bread, on the other hand, needs a good public relations person if it’s not to end up a sad bag of breadcrumbs in the back of the freezer. I am more than happy to assume that role, because I know there is nothing better than fried old bread, crisp on the outside and soft inside after absorbing the juices of whatever it has come into contact with. Try, and you’ll also be sold.
Lamb cutlets with crisp sourdough and yoghurt sauce (pictured top)
This would go perfectly with a potato salad as part of a large feast. Marinate the lamb overnight, if you can, so the flavours get a chance really to penetrate the meat.Advertisement
Prep 15 min
Marinate 1-24 hr
Cook 1 hr 25 min
500g rack of lamb (8 cutlets)
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
150g sourdough (about 3-4 slices), roughly torn into 3cm pieces
4 tbsp mixed dill, mint and parsley leaves, picked
For the marinade
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tbsp oregano leaves
1 lemon – zest finely grated, to get 1½ tsp, then juiced, to get 1 tbsp
1 tbsp olive oil
For the vegetables
450g baby courgettes, halved lengthways
4-5 vine tomatoes, quartered
10g oregano leaves
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 banana shallots, peeled and quartered lengthways
180ml dry white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce
50g Greek-style yoghurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Cut the lamb rack in half (ie, two pieces of four ribs each), then rub with a teaspoon of flaked salt and lots of pepper. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan on a high flame and, once hot, lay in the lamb skin side down and fry for five minutes, or until the fat is golden brown, then transfer to a large bowl.Advertisement
Blitz all the marinade ingredients in a food processor with a teaspoon of flaked salt and plenty of pepper. Coat the lamb in the marinade and leave at room temperature for an hour, or refrigerate overnight (in which case, leave it to come back to room temperature before cooking).
Put all the ingredients for the vegetables in a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper, then add 250ml water, a teaspoon of flaked salt and a generous grind of pepper, and toss. Roast for half an hour, until the vegetables are lightly coloured.
Lay the lamb fat side up on top of the vegetables, roast for 15 minutes, then transfer the lamb to a plate, cover tightly with foil and leave to rest. Turn the grill to its highest setting and put an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Toss the bread with two tablespoons of oil, then stir into the veg. Arrange the bread pieces so they are on top of the vegetables, then grill for six minutes, until crisp and golden.
While the bread is grilling, mix all the yoghurt sauce ingredients with a generous pinch of salt.
Transfer the vegetables and bread to a shallow platter and gently fold in the herbs. Cut the lamb into eight cutlets, sprinkle generously with flaked salt, then tuck under and in between the vegetables. Drizzle over the sauce and the last tablespoon of oil, and serve.
Spatchcocked chicken with dripping bread
Imagine my excitement levels when I learned, from J Kenji López-Alt at seriouseats.com, what a pinch of baking powder does to chicken skin.
Prep 5 min
Marinate 30 min-24 hr
Cook 1 hr 5 min
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
½ tsp paprika
1½ tsp urfa chilli flakes (or ¾ tsp regular chilli flakes)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp grated lemon zest
Salt and black pepper
1 medium chicken (1.3kg)
¼ tsp baking powder
250ml chicken stock
4 x 2cm-thick slices sourdough bread, crusts on (160g)
40g parsley leaves, finely chopped
1½ tbsp red-wine vinegar
90ml olive oil
Mix the butter, garlic, paprika, chilli, cumin, half the lemon zest and half a teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.
To spatchcock the chicken, lay it backbone up on a board. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut down both sides of the backbone, then turn the bird over and press down on the breastbone, to flatten it. Pull out and discard the backbone (or use in stock), and pat the chicken dry. Mix the baking powder with half a teaspoon of salt and lots of pepper, then rub all over the skin and under the leg folds. With the legs pointing towards you, use your hands to loosen the skin over the breasts and thighs, gently lifting it from the flesh. Spread the butter evenly under the skin, then rub any remaining butter over the skin. Marinate for up to 24 hours, and at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/465F/ gas 9. Put the chicken in a high-sided baking tray just big enough for it to stay spread out. Pour the stock around the chicken (not over it), then roast for 35 minutes, basting twice in the first 20 minutes, until the skin is very crisp and the chicken cooked (stick a skewer into the thick part of the leg: the juices should run clear). Transfer to a board and leave, uncovered to rest for a few minutes.
Heat the grill to 220C. Put the bread in the same tray, tearing it so it fits without much overlap, and coat all over in the cooking juices. With the tray at least 10cm below the grill (the fat will spit), grill for six to eight minutes, or until the bread is crisp and golden brown.
Mix the parsley with the vinegar, oil, remaining lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Serve the chicken on a platter with the bread and salsa alongside.
Sugar and spice croutons with cherries and goat’s cheese cream
This dessert came about after a long conversation about churros, in which everyone in the test kitchen agreed that sugar-dusted dough is great and that we should definitely try to recreate it using stale bread.
Prep 20 min
Cook 10 min
For the goat’s cheese cream
75g soft goat’s cheese
200ml double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp black treacle
½ tsp vanilla extract or paste
½ tsp grated lemon zest
For the compote
2 tbsp caster sugar
1½ tbsp lemon juice
200g fresh or frozen cherries, stems discarded, halved and pitted
3 whole star aniseAdvertisement
For the croutons
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground star anise
¼ tsp flaked sea salt
50g unsalted butter
70g crustless stale bread (sourdough or good-quality white bread), roughly torn into 1cm pieces
In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the goat’s cheese cream to soft peaks, then set aside at room temperature (or refrigerate until needed, if you want to prepare it ahead of time).
For the cherry compote, put everything into a small saucepan on a medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for two minutes, stirring from time to time, until the cherries are just cooked and the liquid has thickened slightly, then keep warm until ready to serve.
Last, make the croutons. Mix the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium, nonstick frying pan on a medium-high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add the bread, stirring often, until all the butter has been absorbed – about 30 seconds. Add the spiced sugar mixture, stir to coat, and keep cooking, stirring often, until the bread starts to crisp up and caramelise in places – five to seven minutes – then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Divide the goat’s cheese cream between four bowls, spoon over the warm compote, scatter over a handful of croutons and serve.