Croquetas

Croquetas

Croquetas

Croquetas are one of the many reasons that I could never become a vegetarian. These gooey, creamy balls of rich béchamel sauce, dotted with jamón and chicken and covered in a crispy coating have got to be one of Spain’s greatest gifts to the world.
As with many Spanish dishes, croquetas raise up leftovers to a glorified place superior to the original meal. Traditional croquetas are made from the leftovers of cocido  – a typical Spanish stew made from every pork product under the sun, chicken, veggies and chickpeas. Cocido is an awesome hat-trick dish as one cocido produces three meals – sopa de fideos (noodles cooked in the cocido broth), cocido (meat, chickpea and veggie stew) and croquetas made from the leftover broth and meat.

As cocido is more of a winter dish, we used a homemade chicken stock as the base for our croquetas, combined with jamón and cooked chicken pieces. Croquetas are time-consuming and fiddly, but I promise you that they are worth it. Once you have the croquet technique down, there are so many variations that you can try – why not add tuna, hard-boiled egg or wild mushrooms?

 

Ingredients (makes around 20 croquetas)

 

(For the croqueta mixture)

75g jamón

150g cooked chicken

1 onion

2tbsp olive oil

3tbsp plain flour

375ml cocido/chicken stock (homemade ideally, or made from a stock cube)

250ml semi-skimmed milk

salt and pepper to taste

 

(For the outer coating)

2 eggs

120g of panko breadcrumbs

 

  1. Cut the jamón, chicken and onion into very small pieces (less than ½ cm square).
  2. Add the oil and onion to a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cook the onion until translucent – around 5 minutes.
  3. Add the small pieces of chicken and jamón to the saucepan and stir well. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the flour to the saucepan and mix thoroughly. Cook for around 3 minutes, stirring constantly to get rid of any lumps.
  5. Add the stock and milk to the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes, continuing to stir constantly until thick.
  6. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste (if you use a stock cube, you may find that you don’t need to add any salt at all.
  7. Pour the mixture onto a large flat surface such as a plate, casserole dish or a Tupperware container. Spread the mixture evenly across the container. Cover with clingfilm and leave to cool down to room temperature.
  8. When the mixture has reached room temperature, place it in the fridge and leave for at least 7 hours, ideally overnight.
  9. When the croqueta mixture has been in the fridge long enough, preheat the oven to 220 °C (430 °F)
  10. Before opening the bag of panko breadcrumbs, use a rolling pin or heavy object to break down the panko into much smaller pieces. Open the bag and pour into a wide bowl or tray. In another bowl, beat the eggs well.
  11. Remove the croqueta mixture from the fridge – it should be totally solid. Take tablespoon-sized pieces of the mixture and roll them gently in your hands until you get a small cylinder about 5cm long.
  12. Dip each individual croqueta into the beaten egg, and then dip it into the breadcrumbs.
  13. Cover a large oven tray with foil and brush with olive oil. Place the croquetas on the tray and bake at 220 °C for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Turn the croquetas over after 15 minutes to make sure that both sides get nice and crispy!
  14. Serve hot from the oven as part of a tapas selection, or with a green salad as a light meal!

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