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Bobby Flay uses this secret ingredient to take pasta to the next level

The Food Network star revealed his oft-used secret weapon on "Beat Bobby Flay."
/ Source: TODAY

Trying to recreate celebrity chefs' best dishes in your own kitchen often seems like a daunting task. From the lengthy list of specialty ingredients to super specific tools, some recipes are truly best left to the pros.

But Food Network star Bobby Flay recently revealed that one of his favorite tricks for taking dishes to the next level involves a few everyday ingredients many people likely have in their pantry.

During his recent live cooking class for the Food Network Kitchen app, Flay prepared spicy lemon spaghetti with lobster.

During the demo, he let fans in on a little secret: During “Beat Bobby Flay,” he often sprinkles on toasted breadcrumbs to add a little crunch to many of his dishes, including pasta and salads. “(The competitors) are so good. They are amazing chefs, but when I put the crunch in there, it’s a little extra thing that the judges like,” he said.

The Food Network Kitchen app, which launched in 2019, allows users to cook along with their favorite Food Network chefs and other culinary professionals with both live and on-demand classes.

Thankfully, Flay’s breadcrumbs are easy to make but they're also packed with flavor. “You can make these days ahead of time,” he said in the class. “I actually make breadcrumbs for salads also. If you’re making a salad and you toss in toasted breadcrumbs into like a kale salad, it gives it that nice little crunch instead of those big croutons. It works really nicely.”

For the spicy pasta topping, Flay first combined butter and olive oil in a skillet. Then he added garlic that he smashed into a paste with kosher salt, which allows the garlic to better dissolve in the oil and butter. He then tossed in the panko-style breadcrumbs to the fragrant oil and toasted them in the skillet until they turned golden brown. He finished them off by adding a sprinkle of lemon zest on top.

“You want them half and half toasted so that the toasted flavor of the breadcrumbs doesn’t take over,” he said.

Panko breadcrumbs are flakier and lighter than most canned varieties on the market. What sets them apart is the texture and type of bread used. There are two types of panko: white and tan. White panko is made from white bread without the crust and tan panko is made from the whole loaf. On their own, panko breadcrumbs don’t have a ton of flavor, but they add an incredible crunch to just about everything and can easily be flavored with your favorite spices.

Even better, panko breadcrumbs can be purchased at just about any grocery store these days.