I had seen a shiny new brand of g-free bread crumbs made from rice (so, not really bread at all), and since I use rice flour as a substitution for so many things (I know, I still owe part 2 of my g-free flours post) I thought the rice crumbs would be perfect for the stuffing that goes in my stuffed pork chops.
I combined a cup of the rice crumbs, along with 1/4 cup chopped apples, 2 Tbsp. chopped onion, 1 tsp. of fresh sage and salt and pepper to taste. Then, added about 1/3 cup chicken stock to moisten the mixture. It smelled wonderful, looked promising. I cut deep slits into my boneless pork chops and filled them with the stuffing mixture.
What should have been my first warning: The stuffing had become incredibly sticky and was hard to separate by the time I was stuffing the chops.
I fried the chops for a few minutes on each side to get a nice crust, then popped them in the oven for about 20 minutes to finish them off. They came out steaming, bubbling and smelling of sage and roasted apples.
But it was a huge fail. Disastrous. Embarrassing.
The stuffing had become a grey, gelatinous mass pouring out of the chop. There were no signs of sweet apples or savory sage. Just, this blob. I half expected it to move when I poked it (remember dinner in “The Adam’s Family” movie, circa 1994? Anyone?). The flavor was lost, and it sucked the moisture from your mouth, forcing you to make a “smack, smack, smack” sound as you tried to process the gooey grossness.
I’m not sure what scientific principles are behind the rice crumbs having done this (though I’m sure it has something to do with the release of starches when wet), but am willing to suggest that rice crumbs not be used for wet mixtures.
My recommendation for the best g-free bread crumb substitute: Tortilla crumbs. They have a great texture, hold their integrity and can be used in any mixture (but because of their mild flavor, they may not be appropriate for all recipes). Or, for deep fried “breaded” items, I’ve found that cornmeal makes and excellent crust without holding too much oil. Schar also makes a great g-free bread crumb, though I think it’s overpriced for a filler.
Last, you can always cube g-free bread in place of bread crumbs. The cubes hold their integrity well, don’t over absorb liquids and give you that light, fluffy taste you’re looking for in stuffings and mixes.