Nobody in the history of the world has ever brought precisely enough buns for a barbecue — either they run out in an hour, or the host gets to figure out what to do with 48 leftover hot dog buns. If the latter sounds like you, you can use those extra buns to make some truly excellent croutons.
A good salad is all about achieving that perfect balance of flavours and textures, and nothing adds crunch quite like a crouton. You can purchase pre-made croutons pretty easily, but it you want a truly great cube of golden, crispy, just slightly chewy bread, you should make them yourself. They're also dead easy to make.
This is more than a neat trick for using up leftovers. Soft, squishy commercial hot dog and hamburger buns are scientifically perfect crouton material.
Unlike crusty artisan bread, their light, fluffy texture ensures that your croutons won’t end up sharp or too hard to chew. They’re also super-porous, so they absorb a ton of fat — and their high sugar content means they brown easily.
The only downside — for this application, at least — is they take a while to stale, thanks to a good dose of preservatives. You can speed this process up by leaving the bag open overnight.
Once you have some dry, crusty buns to work with, turning them into croutons couldn’t be easier. Just cube ‘em up and toss ‘em in a big cast iron or nonstick frying pan with plenty of butter over medium heat. Toast for maybe 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to turn them over.
When your beautiful little crouton babies are crisp and brown on all sides, drain them on paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt. You now have the power to make any salad that much more delicious.