Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Herbed Garlic Croutons | Cookout . 7

This is a sneak peek from the upcoming January 15 issue of Roofscape.

Croutons are one of life's large little pleasures. They make soups and salads sing, but sometimes they step out from the chorus and become stars. Without them, for example, a Caeser salad would be just a bowl of lettuce.

The key to croutons is crispness. How crisp? Can you hear everyone around the table crunching quite clearly. That crisp.

Crispy croutons starts with great bread - simple unbleached white country bread with a chewy crust. Iggy's Francese (shown above) is the gold standard for making croutons - and just about everything else that can be done with bread.

Iggy's breads are available in stores and farmer's markets around the greater Boston area, but they will UPS or FedEx worldwide. Francese and three other varieties are specially baked for shipping as 4-pound round basket loaves. To place an order call: 617-491-7600.

If the loaf on hand is day-old, dry and hard, so much the better, but around my house Francese never lasts long enough to get stale. I just take a fresh loaf from the freezer (it freezes well) and let it thaw until it can be cut with a bread knife.

The secret to the crispiest croutons is to bake them twice - both before and after buttering them. If you have an old gas stove with a pilot light, the first baking can be done by simply leaving them in the oven for a long time.


1 large loaf of country white bread, such as Iggy's Francese
1 stick butter, melted
8 garlic cloves, pressed or minced and mashed with salt
1 teaspoon (or 1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped) each dried basil, oregano, parsley, thyme; crumbled
1/2 teaspoon (or 1/2 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped) dried tarragon; crumbled


Pre-heat the oven to 325° F.

Cut the bread into 3/4-inch cubes with a bread knife. Place in a single layer on a large raised-rim baking sheet (s). Bake for 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and place n a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the garlic.

Gradually drizzle the melted butter over the croutons as you toss them with two wooden spoons. When the croutons are all evenly coated, crumble the herbs over them, continuing to toss.

Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or so. Allow to cool before using.

Image ... Iggy's Francese bread. Courtesy of Iggy's.

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