After a couple of weeks eating ready meals from chefs at the top of the culinary tree, I’ve come crashing down to earth and returned to the world of jolly old Ainsley. I’ve had this bag of croutons sat in the cupboard for a while and have been waiting for the right opportunity to get stuck in. Tonight has proven to be the night. I’m home alone watching a programme called The House that 100k Built and to inject some excitement I cracked open the croutons.
My experience of croutons has been twofold 1. lovely, toasted, slightly stale bread fried until golden brown and scattered through a salad and 2. Perfectly formed cubes of crunchy stuff floating about in cup a soups. I’ve never really understood what the latter are, but I’ve always quite enjoyed them.
I expected Ainsley’s version to be more closely aligned to a cup a soup crouton than the stale bread one and when I read the serving suggestion, Ainsley recommends putting them in his own cup soup. I wonder if he deliberately makes crap cup soups without croutons so he can then sell croutons? I don’t like to think of him being so mercenary… but you never know.
When I opened the bag the croutons looked surprisingly like actual toasted bread, rather than factory made unidentifiable crispy chunks. I was really disappointed. For the first time since starting this blog I was hoping for a crap, cheap product but got a higher quality one. However all credit to Ainsley for doing things properly.
The croutons were perfectly formed cubes and I started crunching through them. They were bland as a greatest hits album from Dido. They had an unpleasant bitter note and the claim they were lightly salted was an odd one; for the most part they weren’t salted at all, but then every now and again I found a crouton that tasted of nothing but salt. I guess overall that means they were slightly salted, but I’d have preferred a more even spread.
I know that croutons aren’t meant to be eaten on their own, but I didn’t want soup for dinner (who would) and the only thing in the cupboard that came close to going in a salad was some shrivelled up kale, so I guess I am judging them a little out of context. I tried to imagine them playing a supporting role in a full on dish, and I think they’d do just fine. I reckon the bitterness would be masked, the seasoning disguised and as a textural addition they could enliven your dinner.
Ainsley Harriott Lightly Salted Croutons 60g bag – £0.56