Onion Cracklin’ Cornbread Croutons

by Min Merrell
cornbread croutons

These beauties are Onion Cracklin’ Cornbread Croutons. Have them ready for your next summer farm salad.  And don’t forget the Buttermilk Goddess Dressing.

Instead of pork for the cracklings I used crispy onions, the lovely fried shallots from Thailand you buy in jars and bags at most any international market (K&S Market in Nashville). Fried shallots provide last-minute miracle umami service for so many dishes, especially these croutons. I sprinkle the onions liberally on just about anything Asian, like Singapore chicken rice, congee,  noodle soups, and fried rice.

But not just that. Think of them as a fancy, more sophisticated, smaller and lighter Durkee onion on the traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole. Toss them on as-is over a salad, rice, steamed vegetables, scrambled eggs, hot grits, you name it. What doesn’t taste great with fried onions? A one-pound bag costs us about five bucks and lasts quite a while. We store them in the freezer or fridge.

Continuing our crispy southern cornbread jag, we had to add these crispy onions to the batter for Onion Cracklin’ Cornbread Croutons. We always encourage a thin and crisp cornbread, so croutons made from cornbread are just another good reason not to go thick and tall. A half-sheet pan makes a perfect crouton.

Notice that the liquid in the recipe is a combination of buttermilk and water. I love the tang of buttermilk, but all buttermilk can make the croutons a little too moist–a fine quality for regular cornbread, but not so much for croutons. So, use part water to hydrate the cornmeal for just the right crunchy/soft bite. Just like a skillet of cornbread, get the greased pan good and hot while the oven heats up. It’ll make the best crust and with cornbread, it’s all about the crust.

One more thing–I don’t usually add sugar to my cornbread, but just like caramelizing onions, a little sugar seemed to bring out the onion flavor. Cut and toss your croutons warm on a salad, or first cool, cut and reheat later for extra crispness and serve at room temperature. They’re great both ways.

Now add them to your favorite salad and pour on the Buttermilk Goddess dressing!

We made this big recipe for the Nashville Les Dames d’Escoffier Tour De Farm salad course in half-sheet pans. It can easily be cut in half and baked in a hot greased 9 x 13 pan. Or, make a lot and keep them bagged in the freezer. Reheat in a hot oven.

 

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