See that pretty chicken up there? All golden brown and crispy? The brown and crispy are the result of breadcrumbs (and a nice hot pan) but also the breadcrumbs. Don’t be fooled. All breadcrumbs are not created equally. In recent years Panko has taken its place on grocery store shelves, giving the breadcrumbs we’ve always used a run for their money. So, what’s the difference?
Panko vs Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are toasted or dried bread finely ground or processed into a wonderful dust. Yep, bread dust. They’re wonderful for breading or coating fried or baked foods and binding (holding together) foods like crab cakes or meatballs. Because traditional breadcrumbs are so finely ground they give foods a dense texture. You can buy breadcrumbs plain or with seasoning added. I like to buy plain and add my own seasonings to suit my recipe. To DIY breadcrumbs, throw some toasted or slightly stale bread in your food processor and voila. You just upcycled old bread!
Panko is actually a type of breadcrumb. It’s used largely in Asian foods but in recent years has become more commonplace in other cuisines, as well. Texture is what makes Panko great. Instead of being ground into a fine crumb, Panko is processed into larger flakes. The larger flakes absorb less oil, giving food a light, crispy crunch, the hallmark of foods coated in Panko. Asian markets may have two types of Panko, white, which is made from crustless Japanese wheat bread, and tan, made from the same bread with the crust. Both give you the same fantastic crunch.
Lemon Parmesan Chicken
If you have boneless, skinless chicken breasts, Panko and Parmesan, you can get dinner done in a jiffy. Season up your Panko with the cheese, a little lemon zest and a little S & P and dredge your chicken in the mix. A quick sear and you’re done! I use fresh herbs when I have them on hand but you can certainly raid your spice drawer and use dried, as well. (Check my tips for swapping fresh vs dried herbs to make sure you get it right.)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 thin boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup Panko
- 1/2 cup Parmesan
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Lightly beat egg and lemon juice together in a shallow bowl. Toss Panko, Parmiggiano, lemon zest and thyme together on a plate.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip chicken breasts in eggs and lemon juice, allowing any excess to drain. Dredge chicken breasts in Panko until evenly coated.
- Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, 3-5 minutes per side. Remove from oven and rest chicken on a plate lined with paper towels.