Excerpted from Della Fattoria Bread by Kathleen Weber (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Ed Anderson.
I call these Crouton Rags because the bread is torn apart, giving them an appealing tattered texture. I think the croutons are best made with a Polenta Bâtard (page 219), but they’re also tasty made with a Pain de Campagne Bâtard (page 163). Don’t try to make all the croutons the same size—a range from 1 to 21/2 inches across is good. I keep them on the smaller side to use in the Della Panzanella (page 227) or make them slightly larger for the Tomato Bread Soup. Tear the bread into pieces a bit bigger than you want the crouton to be; they shrink up a bit when toasted.
Makes a generous 3 cups
- Half a large or 1 medium Polenta Bâtard (page 219), preferably day-old, but fresh is fine
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Use your fingers to tear out irregular tufts of bread.
Heat a generous film of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper to it, then add the bread in a single layer (toasting in batches if needed). Cook, tossing or stirring the croutons occasionally and adjusting the heat to keep them from getting too dark, until they have a nice golden color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
The croutons are best the day they are made.