Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. plain Italian bread crumbs
3-4 cloves chopped fine garlic cloves
1 packet of Good Seasons dressing mix
1 ½ cups of grated cheese (I use either pecorino Romano, or Parmesan)
½ cup finely chopped parsley
2 handfuls of Progresso fixed Italian bread crumbs

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl
2. Store in air-tight container in freezer

Recipe courtesy of Felicia Mohan, Gloucester, MA, 2010

You may have heard that one of the enduring culinary traditions within Gloucester's Italian community is the Mudica Conzata, or Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.

Originally the recipe came from Sicily and perhaps no two people make them exactly the same.

Felicia Mohan of Gloucester learned how to cook by helping her Grandmother at a very young age; in fact she was so young she had to stand on a chair. The Mudica breadcrumbs are used in many traditional dishes but one dish that many people recall more so than others is Mudica Steak.

Felicia, who was named after her grandmother, assures that her Grandma Felicia's Mudica Conzata and her other culinary traditions will be around for many more years to come.

Modiga, otherwise known as breadcrumbs, is a staple food in an Italian kitchen. We use it almost every day, in some way, shape, or form, whether it's vegetables, on fish, or on chicken.

So today, I'd like to show you how to prepare modiga, a seasoned modiga. In Sicilian, it's called modiga [SICILIAN], which means fixed or seasoned breadcrumbs.

So we're going to start with a pound and a half of plain breadcrumbs. Into that, we're going to add Progresso Breadcrumbs. And they're the Italian Style. We're just going to use about two handfuls.

Next, we're going to add one package have Good Seasons Italian Dressing. It just adds a really good flavor. It has all of the seasonings. You don't need to measure every one out.

The next thing we're going to do is add some fresh grated Parmesan cheese. And you do it by eye. I'm going to say, probably, about a cup and a half of cheese. The more cheese, the better. It'll really melt and makes it kind of crispy when it fries up. It's really yummy.

When I was a child, I remember going over to my grandmother Felicia's house. My grandmother used to make this. And I remember standing in her kitchen and just watching her. And I remember my mother learning how to make it. And now it's one of my son's very, very favorite meals. And he's a very picky eater. So if he will eat this, anybody will eat this

So next, we're going to add three to four cloves of garlic. For me, you can never have too much garlic. I'm going to break some up.

Easier if you put it on the cutting board. Put your knife. Don't cut yourself. And just give it a quick smash. It just breaks the skin, and it makes it easier to peel. Sometimes you need to do it again. Don't be afraid.

So now we have our garlic peeled. And we're going to just finely chop, mince, as small as you can get it. It doesn't have to be perfect. The garlic smells so fresh. It's so yummy.

We always want to buy garlic that the skin is really tight. It has almost like a purplish tint to it. That's when you know that you're getting a nice, really good quality head of garlic. That's what I look for when I go to the grocery store.

So all together, we have about, I would say, four cloves of garlic. Like I said, don't be afraid. You never can have too much.

We're going to add our chopped garlic to our breadcrumbs that we've prepared. Let's mix it all in. And I'm Italian, so we do everything with our hands. So if you want to, and you don't want to get your hands dirty, you can get spoon. But there's nothing like just mixing it with your hands. I'm just going to toss this. You can smell the cheese. It's smells so good, and the garlic.

Now I'm looking at this, and I'm thinking that I need to add just a little bit more of the Italian Style fixed breadcrumbs. A little here, add a little there. This looks good. We're going to place this aside.

And we're going to chop our fresh parsley. That's the last step. So we're going to take a good handful, probably about a half a cup, when it's all chopped. I like to use the fresh parsley. I just think it has great flavor. I like the texture of it. The color I like. It's better than the dried. The dried, sometimes, is crunchy, dark. This has a really fresh flavor.

I remember cooking with my grandmother, climbing up onto a chair. I was very, very young. I always had an interest in the kitchen. I'm comfortable in the kitchen. I don't know.

And it started when I was very young. If you ask anybody in my family, they'll tell you, I was always next to my grandmother, always interested in what she was cooking, how she was cooking it, loved tasting it. I was named after her. So I don't know. I probably have some genes.

She was a fabulous cook. We've learned so much from her, over the years. And we were lucky enough that she was one of those cooks, although she cooked by eye, she always had a recipe.

So when she passed away, that recipe box followed from house to house in our family, and everybody made copies. I know the recipes, because I cooked with my grandmother so much. So I really don't look at the recipes all that often, to tell you the truth.

My mother, on the other hand, when she's cooking a recipe, she has to follow the recipe to a T. If my grandmother's recipe said stir it five times, she will stir it five time only. So we have a big joke in our family. My mother and I have a hard time cooking together, although we enjoy it. I cook more like my grandmother and just go by eye and by taste. And my mother is the exact cooker.

My daughter is starting to cook more like me. She's a little bit more daring than my mother. And my son, actually, loves to help make me cook-- believe it or not-- more than my daughter. My daughter likes to make dessert. So that's kind of fun to have him interested in something I'm so passionate about.

With these bread crumbs, you actually can do a number of things. We use these every Sunday when we make meatballs. Another reason why it's nice to make a big batch of them and keep them in your freezer. One less thing, on Sunday morning, you have to do. We do chicken with them. You can do a nice steak on the grill, so many vegetables. There's so many uses for these.

So we're just going to add this to our breadcrumbs again. And we're just going to toss it all together. Now you can see why the fresh parsley would be better than the dried.

You can actually see the flakes. And when you're breading something or using these in meatballs, you see the little pieces of the green. And it's so delicious. And it looks pretty. Because it has to look as good as it tastes. So here we have our fixed modiga [SICILIAN], which means fixed or seasoned breadcrumbs.

Mudica Bread Crumbs
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