“Please not that my croquettes are wonky because, as everybody knows, very neat croquettes – like very neat people and houses – are suspicious.”
-Rachel Roddy, Five Quarters
These croquettes are a mix of leftover chicken and ham, but you can make them entirely of one or the other. Or you can substitute other fillings – black pudding or smoked salmon for example, or see below for other suggestions.
They are a very traditional Spanish tapa, but of course they occur in most countries. In The Netherlands potato croquettes are a typical kind of street food, of the type described by October guru, Ollie Hunter. These croquettes are usually served on their own, but they also go very well with aioli – this blog gives a quick, cheats’ way of making it.
Recipe for making croquetas – a base for all kinds of fillings
For eight croquettes (most people will want two!)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 200 ml/1⅓ cups of milk
- 120g/4 oz/very approximately ½ cup cooked chicken, very finely chopped
- 50g/2 oz ham Ibérico or Serrano, very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- 1 beaten egg
- about three grinds of nutmeg
- some Panko breadcrumbs – a couple of tablespoons – or you can try instant polenta
- sunflower oil for frying
- smoked salt (not too much because the ham is salty) and white pepper
- Make a béchamel (a plain white sauce) sauce – put the olive oil in small saucepan and begin to heat.
- Add the flour, mix in and leave to cook over a lowish heat for about three minutes.
- Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time to avoid lumps, until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Add the chicken, ham, parsley, nutmeg and seasoning and stir well.
- Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and put it in the fridge for as long as you can (overnight is good). DO NOT attempt to skip this stage as, unless the croquette mix is properly cooled the croquettes will fall to pieces when you attempt to fry them.
- Put the beaten egg into one bowl and the breadcrumbs into another flattish one.
- Moisten your hands and divide the well-cooled croquette mix into eight equal pieces.
- Roll each into a cylindrical, croquette shape.
- Dip them, one by one, into the beaten egg and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.
- Once prepared, again, put them in the fridge to cool.
- Pour the sunflower oil (about 1cm/½” deep) into a deepish frying pan and get it smoking hot.
- Fry the croquettes in small batches (so as not to lower the temperature of the oil too much), turning frequently, until they are crisp and golden.
- Take them out and allow them to drain on kitchen paper.
- Serve immediately, with the aioli if you have it.
Other types of croquettes
Croquettes are a great way of using up all sorts of things. Instead of the béchamel sauce (the white sauce used in the recipe above) you can use mashed potato. For the flavour you can substitute for the mix of ham and chicken:
- all chicken
- all ham
- cheese -especially, for example, cheddar and cumin seeds
- black pudding
- salmon, or smoked salmon
- minced meat – beef or pork (fry first with some finely chopped onion)
- Parmesan – rather good with a cold beer
I realise including the Fats Domino classic song, Little Coquette, is pushing the associations a bit, but I make no excuses!