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July 16, 2007 / Tony

Homemade croutons

Homemade croutons are such an easy and delicious thing to make that it is an absolute travesty if you buy those boxed varieties at the grocery store.  Here is all you have to do:  Whenever you have leftover bread (good bread preferably) and it is getting a little stale, simply cut it into crouton sized pieces (1/4″ to 1/2″ squares) and freeze them in a plastic bag.  Then, when you need croutons, heat some olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan and then add your frozen croutons with some salt and pepper.  Cook, adding more oil as necessary, until the croutons are browned and fairly crisp, tossing occassionally.  It’s pretty difficult to get them evenly browned, so don’t sweat it if parts of the croutons are not brown.  They’ll still taste really good.  And you do have a choice in how far to cook the croutons.  You can make them as crisp as you want and drive out all of the moisture inside of the croutons but I prefer to hold back a little and retain a little chewiness in the middle.  It’s a nice texture contrast both to the outside of the crouton and the salad.  As always, taste and adjust the seasonings.  And please use Kosher salt for this recipe.  It really will taste better. 

Obviously, the type of bread you use will have a huge effect on the end product.  You can really use any type of bread but good, chewy European or sourdough style breads work the best.  This past weekend I used the leftovers of the No-knead bread.  It produced a very nice crouton with a nutty flavor and a crispy and chewy texture.  I think pumperknickel bread also make a very good crouton, especially for Casear salad. 

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