There are so many ways to make croutons and breadcrumbs but this is my go-to method that produces a super crunchy and crispy result. I like to pan-fry the torn pieces of sourdough but the pieces could also be baked in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven (375°F/190°C until golden brown). I preheat my Lodge carbon steel skillet until it’s super hot, toss in a little extra virgin olive oil, sometimes a small pad of butter with the oil, and then the chunks of sourdough. Don’t crowd the pan, you want them to be able to lie flat in a single layer for maximum toasting.
For the ingredients in this recipe, I did two batches in my skillet.
- Several slices of leftover sourdough bread (if not stale, preferably left out overnight to get a little firm), torn irregularly
- 1.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil for every cup torn bread
- A handful of dried or fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, rosemary etc.)
- Tear sourdough bread into irregular, but uniform, pieces as large as you like, and place them into a mixing bowl.
- Pour olive oil over the bread with a couple of large pinches of salt and the herbs. Mix well. At this point taste one of them to see if it’s seasoned well enough, adjust salt and herbs as necessary.
- Heat a dry skillet over medium-high until quite hot and add enough of the torn bread mixture to make a single layer in the pan, working in several batches if necessary to avoid crowding. Let the bread pieces sit for a few minutes until they start to sear then stir occasionally. Watch them in the pan as they can quickly burn.
- Once all pieces are well-cooked transfer to a bowl lined with paper towels to cool.
Once the croutons are cool use a large rolling pin to smash them and roll out to a fine consistency. This is a messy task by hand with a rolling pin and the croutons could be placed under plastic to help keep the crumbs on the table. Alternatively, pulse them in a food processor until all the pieces are the same size. If the breadcrumbs are to be used simply as a finishing touch, like for a soup, it’s nice to have crumbs that are of varying sizes. If the breadcrumbs are to be used for breading fish or anything else, ensure they are ground down to a consistent, fine degree so they evenly coat whatever is being fried (food processor method is preferred).
Breadcrumbs keep well stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.