For my second entry I wanted to make something that was closer to home so either Spanish or English. In fact, I believe this is cooked all over the world but it is very synonymous with tapas bars here in Spain. Although this recipe is a fairly standard one to start with, my hope is if I master these then in the future I can experiment with lots of different fillings such as some great ones we had in a tapas place (name to follow, when I remember!) in Poble Sec (a quarter here in Barcelona) which included ricotta and spinach.
So croquetas de jamon…! (full recipe shown at the end of the post)
Again, I already had most of the ingredients (I always keep a supply of breadcrumbs in the freezer). I just needed to buy mushrooms so a good recipe to do as a last minute option. In addition, this recipe fitted around my day in that while the mixture was cooling for 2 hours I could have my Spanish language exchange so convenient too!
After melting the butter and adding the onions, I started working on chopping the mushrooms realising you need quite a lot of space to finely chop 115g of mushrooms! I didn’t measure this precisely though so maybe I had too many…
I cooked the mushrooms for 5 mins, added the flour, stirred over a medium heat for 1 minute waiting for the mixture to go dry, crumbly and to change colour. It was definitely dry but I’m not sure it was particularly crumbly and for me, the colour changed more when the mushrooms were cooked rather than when the flour was added!
After adding the milk and stock the mixture was very smooth and it thickened well upon heating. I added the ham and pepper, put in a bowl to cool and went to meet my friend to talk English and a bit of Spanish 😉
After 2 hours I returned and with the mixture, flour, eggs and breadcrumbs started to complete the croquetas. This part was the most tricky as the mixture was so sticky.
My hands were very messy even before getting to the eggs so I’m afraid my end product was not so neat but I’m still at the stage of cooking where taste is much more important (I suspect that will never change!). I followed the recipe and managed to get 9 (rather large) croquetas using the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs specified (which I then chilled in the fridge for 30 mins before cooking). This left me with about half of the mixture remaining which I will use in another batch. 9 large croquetas between 2 people seemed enough!
I cooked them for about 3 minutes and they held together well while cooking (unlike the frozen variety that I have tried many times that always look a bit naked after cooking), they were golden and actually very tasty! I would recommend this recipe and the last stages could be fun with kids (as in flour, egg, breadcrumbs, NOT cooking them in the 170 degree oil!).
I think a nice salad would go well with these croquetas or they could be presented alongside other tapas dishes. For us, what with 4.5 giant croquetas each, a little bit of pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato, salt and olive oil) was perfect!
I will cook croquetas again but will definitely be experimenting with different flavours.
- Butter 90g
- Onion 1 small, finely chopped
- Mushrooms 115g, finely chopped
- Plain flour 125g for mixture plus 60g extra for coating
- Milk 250ml
- Chicken stock 185ml
- Jamon 115g, finely chopped
- Eggs 2
- Dry breadcrumbs 50g
- Oil For deep-frying
Melt the butter on a low heat in a saucepan and add the onions and cook for 5 mins. Add the mushrooms and also cook on a low heat for another 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and stir over a medium heat for 1 min. The mixture should become dry, crumbly and change colour (I think just dry is fine!). Take off the heat and add the milk, stirring until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the stock, put back on the heat and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Add the ham and some freshly ground pepper, stir and put in a bowl to leave to cool for 2 hours.
Take heaped tablespoons of the mixture and roll into croqueta shapes about 6cm long. Put the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into 3 separate bowls/plates. First put the rolled croqueta mixture in the flour, then egg (letting the excess drip away) and then the breadcrumbs. Put on a tray to refridgerate for 30 mins.
Add suffucient oil to a saucepan (I would say so that about half the croqueta is submerged) and heat on high until you can drop some crumbs of bread in that start to cook and turn brown. Then turn the heat down slightly to medium-high and add the croquetas, frying for 3 minutes. Be careful not to overload the saucepan. If necessary you can cook the croquetas in batches.
Drain well on kitchen towl before serving.