Having been M.I.A. for a few days, I leave you today (to make up for) with a Spanish cuisine 101 recipe: Croquetas de Jamón. One of those wonderful inventions that profit from the leftover chicken, cod or ham that we might have at home, and turn them into a delicious snack worthy of the finest palates.
For years I have been reluctant to making homemade croquettes; for fear that they were not good enough, or that they would break while frying or for the convenience (and laziness) of buying precooked. But the other day I decided to give it a try, following a fantastic recipe I found at the Enciclopedia de Gastronomía, a very nice web full of delicious recipes and wit.
I hope you feel encouraged to make them too, the taste is incomparable and is unlikely you’ll find something as tasteful as these at the grocery store.
According to Pepe Iglesias, the author of the web, while making ham croquettes one must take some precautions:
First, use the remains of a good Iberian ham, those little bits that are not eaten because they are attached to bone and dry, but whose taste is so intense and concentrated.
I must add that if you do not have this ham, is OK. We’re practicing, learning new recipes, and no one learns to drive in a Ferrari. So if you do not have this ham at home or if it is too expensive at the store, simply use some other good quality ham.
Secondly, you have to chop it (the ham) and give it a boil in the milk that we are going to use for the béchamel. This will rehydrate and release all the flavor into the milk and, consequently, in the béchamel.
No objection to this advice from me. It is indeed a critical step.
Finally, you should make the dough and leave it overnight, cooling in the fridge. They also can be frozen before frying for unexpected guests; in that case after frying don’t forget to check that they are hot inside, if not put them in the oven for a while.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons cake flour
- 1 Liter of milk
- 200 g of ham
- 1 egg
- Olive oil
In a nonstick pan over medium heat stir together butter and flour to make a roux until it begins to take a beautiful golden color, remove from heat and add a cup of warm milk (in which we have previously boiled the ham), stir until a dough is formed and put it back in the heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Repeated the operation this time adding two cups of milk (always out of the heat), stir to mix the dough, which this time will be more creamy and bring it back to the heat stirring continuously until it starts to boil again.
Repeat the operation again, this time adding the rest of the milk. Now, when we put it back in the heat, you must allow it to boil three times, leaving a moment away from the heat between each one.
Now, for the breading. Help yourself with to spoons to shape the croqueta (pictured), deep it in beaten egg, then in bread crumbs, let stand a couple of hours in the fridge and fry in plenty of hot olive oil.
It is important to keep the oil at a temperature as constant as possible, so it is not advisable to throw too many croquettes at a time so that the temperature doesn’t drop sharply.
Drain on paper towels the excess oil and serve.