Croquetas are one of my favourite tapas but I’d never thought to try and make them myself before, mainly because I thought they would be quite complicated with all that deep frying nonsense (I’ll admit to have never deep fried before). On looking up a few recipes, I discovered that they’re not too hard to make and if prepared well beforehand, they can easily be included in a tapas line-up to impress your friends at home.
I has also assumed that all croquettes involved potato but apparently not so with the super creamy croquetas of Spain. Its filling is essentially a slightly thicker than usual bechamel sauce mixed with ham or any other available morsels. Once chilled, the concoction can be molded into the oval shapes from which these bite-size delights get their name.
I didn’t have time tonight to prepare an aioli or any other accompanying sauce but the croquetas were pretty tasty on their own. However, now that I have a grasp of the basic recipe, I have some great ideas for my next attempt.
Croquetas (with ham, asparagus & mushroom)
4 tbsp olive oil
one small onion finely diced
one garlic clove, crushed (I made do without garlic as I ran out – still tasted good!)
4 tbsp plain flour
100g ham (serrano or cooked)
50g of asparagus, finely chopped (about one large, or two skinny)
50g of mushrooms, finely chopped (two medium sized)
pinch of paprika
breadcrumbs (I use half regular, half panko, Japanese breadcrumbs)
oil for frying (I used canola)
salt to season
To prepare: Heat oil in saucepan on medium heat and add onions. Saute for five minutes until soft, but not browned. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook over low heat, stirring continuously for one minute. Remove mixture from heat and gradually add milk to form a smooth bechamel sauce. Return to heat and bring to boil but keep stirring. Mixture will thicken. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in ham, vegetables, paprika and salt. Allow mixture to chill in fridge for at least an hour. Once chilled, form oval shapes that are roughly the size of a small egg. Prepare beaten egg and dip croquetas into the egg. Roll croquetas in breadcrumbs and coat well. Crumbed croquetas should be chilled in the fridge again for another hour. When ready, prepare enough oil for deep frying (I am still a sissy with deep frying so used enough oil to just cover the croquetas – worked fine!). Heat oil to 190C and add croquetas. They will only need about five minutes of frying. Once golden brown, transfer to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain. Serve while hot!