Croquetas, as they are traditionally called, are Spain’s answer to real comfort food! It’s what all kids grow up on here, and it’s what all grandmums make at home… it’s so sweet and classic… I love the idea of grandmums feeding their little grandkids with these, making them by hand and mixing them up with all kinds of ingredients…You can add pretty much anything to these!
So, at Hofmann, my culinary school, we are focusing on traditional Spanish dishes at the moment, and these are part of the repertoire of course! Until yesterday I had never attempted to make a croqueta, just because it’s very easy to get hold of great quality ones in your local butcher…
It’s really not rocket science… but there is an art to it, I discovered… You have to be patient, have light hands, and get the texture and creaminess just right…
So fry the onions in olive oil and butter, on a fairly low heat, and let them colour just very slightly…
Once you add the milk and flour, keep stirring on a medium heat so that it gets a light golden colour on it, and becomes almost like a mashed potato consistency… Sorry I didn’t take a picture of that phase, I was busy trying not to burn things!!! 🙂
You then need to pour the mixture out onto a flat dish so that it’s all even, cover it with cling film and allow it to cool down and thicken further…
Spanish Ham Croquettes… another recipe from culinary school!
- 20 ml olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unslated
- 1/2 large onion, cubed finely
- 1 large slice of cured ham… you could use any sort of ham you like, but just make sure it’s quite firm.
- 2 tablespoons of fat from the ham, or cut off some bacon fat…
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 250 ml whole milk
- grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- Olive oil for frying
- Heat the oil and butter in a deep pot, add the onions and allow to sweat on a low fire until just golden.
- Add the ham and fat and colour.
- Add the flour and allow it to slightly brown, then add your milk and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and keep stirring on a medium heat until it thickens and becomes very slightly golden iin colour.
- Once you have a thick, mash potato consistency, transfer your bechamel to a flat plate, spread out evenly , cover and cool.
- Once it has cooled down, shape into palm sized ovals or balls.
- Dip the croquets into the beaten egg and then coat with breadcrumbs.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan. Once it’s hot enough, fry your croquettes until nice and deep golden brown.
- As they are ready, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish lined with kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
- Serve immediately, but be careful, they’re steaming hot on the inside!!
I have to say that for my first attempt, these came out pretty close to what I imagined them to be… And that’s with all the pressures of running against the clock and having your wonderful, highly knowledgeable teacher breathing down your neck, looking for perfection!!! 🙂
Try making these at home during the easter holidays, the kids just go crazy for them!!!