Garlic Rye Croutons
MAKES 2 CUPS; Photo p. 68
Active: 15 min. • Total: 30 min.
Slathered in oil, baked until crisp, then tossed with a potent quantity of raw garlic, these rye croutons ride sidecar to every soup in Latvia. If you can’t get a loaf of rupjmaize, the sweet-sour Latvian bread, use the darkest loaf of rye bread you can find.
8 oz. 100 percent rye sourdough bread (such as Latvian rupjmaize), cut into 2-inch chunks ½ cup vegetable oil Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 2 Tbsp. bacon fat 3 large garlic cloves, minced (1 Tbsp.) 1 Tbsp. thinly sliced chives
1 Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, toss the bread with the vegetable oil until evenly saturated and season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet (no need to clean out the bowl), arranging the cubes in a single layer. Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp throughout and darkened at the edges, 15–20 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine the bacon fat and garlic. Heat gently to melt the fat but not cook the garlic, then transfer the mixture to the large bowl and set aside.
3 When the croutons are baked, transfer them to the large bowl and stir well to coat with the garlic and fat. Sprinkle with chives and serve warm or at room temperature with soup or salad.