Friday, March 12, 2010

Croquetas de Jamon

serves 6 as an appetizer



Oh, blessed croquetas! This classic Spanish tapa is about as high as it could be on my list of fried favorites (a VERY short list). This was the second dish that my dear friend Sarah and I made yesterday, along with the Tinga Poblana, for the Mexican/Latin American-themed cooking club meeting. Yes, they’re actually Spanish, but ever since Chris and I ate some in Marbella over Christmas I’ve been craving them like mad, and this seemed like the closest thing to an excuse to make them as I was ever going to get. So fry away and enjoy, but only once a year, in order to preserve yourself from atherosclerosis.


1/2 cup chicken broth

8 tbsp butter

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 tsp nutmeg

dash of ground pepper

1/2 cup very finely hand-minced ham

2 eggs, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water

bread crumbs for coating

olive oil for frying


Heat the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk and the chicken broth, stirring without stopping. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and smooth.

Add the minced ham (make sure that it is very finely minced, so it can be mixed thoroughly with the dough—I used my food processor)and continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes on low heat, continuing to stir. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. It should look about like this:



Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours until mixture is cold. If you are preparing a day or so ahead, you can cover the mixture tightly and keep refrigerated until you are ready to fry the croquettes.

Pour the bread crumbs into a small, wide bowl. Beat the eggs with water in a small, wide bowl. Cover your hands in flour, then divide the mixture into 1-inch balls and set on a plate so that they are not touching.

Pour enough olive oil in a medium to large frying pan to cover 1/2 inch deep. Heat the olive oil for frying to about 355F degrees. Dip the croquetas in the beaten egg and coat with crumbs by rolling in bowl. Place the croquetas in the hot oil and fry quickly, turning several times, until golden. Remove the croquetas with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve immediately.

If croquetas will not be served immediately, place in a warm oven (200 degrees) for up to 30 minutes.

If you prefer, you can use a deep-fryer to fry the croquetas, but be sure not to over-cook them.


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