The adjective rusticano has been associated with this gratin breading preparation because the most typical fragrant plants of our country tradition are mixed together with the flour, namely mint, pricemolo and oregano. However, a pinch of exoticism has been added to these with paprika and turmeric.
Gratin and breading: how they work
As we know, breading means completely covering a food (usually with flour or breadcrumbs) and cooking it so that it is completely covered in a golden and crunchy crust. By gratin we mean a cooking technique which involves the formation of a golden crust on the surface of a dish while the underneath remains softer and moister. Therefore two cooking techniques that have one point in common, the formation of the tasty crust. The chemical processes that govern the formation of that crust are among the most important in the kitchen, if you consider that, for example, they are responsible for the brown crust that encloses white bread and much more. In a nutshell, these chemical processes are made up of the reactions between proteins and sugars. Now perhaps it will be clear to you why when you make a gratin with breadcrumbs and flour you usually add cheese and also why it is not essential in meat or fish gratins (the proteins are in the dish, the sugars in the breadcrumbs (the carbohydrates are in fact complex sugars) while in the case of vegetable gratins you run the risk of carbonising them if you don't add the proteins yourself.
Where to use the gratin rusticana breading
Essentially this gratin preparation could be used in any type of recipe, the local smells, especially mint, give a touch of freshness, the hot spices go in the other direction. In traditional recipes we find mint especially in vegetable gratin dishes and in some fish dishes (especially seafood, such as mussels). Paprika and turmeric can be found in every type of gratin but particularly in meat and fish dishes and on gratin potatoes. In reality it is really a matter of personal taste to decide on what type of gratin dishes you might want to experiment with a variation that introduces a note of freshness.