‘A croquette is a crispy sack with a creamy heart full of flavor’
It would be a challenge to find two equal recipes in Spain. And surely this is because a croquette is traditionally made of left overs, something very, very Spanish. It is a bechamel sauce (thick enough to allow us to manipulate it to shape cylinders or ovals, without losing creaminess) and a flavor, which can be; roast chicken, the meat of a stew, ham, fish, cheese, mushrooms, vegetables, squid … the possibilities are endless.
A croquette is the ultimate expression of homemade food, comfort food, and are found in all tapas bars and restaurants in any town or city in Spain, and it is mandatory before starting any meal, to make a tasting of the croquettes in the menu.
In Cook and Taste we think that today’s recipe is rather a chemical formula.
B + F + O = C
B the bechamel sauce, which in our case would be a constant
F the flavor that we are going to give to our croquette
O is a caramelized onion base (dispensable in some cases depending on F)
And finally C, which is the croquette
For B, bechamel sauce
130g unsalted butter
140g all purpose flour
1 litre of milk.
Ocasionally you may use 1 to 1 ratio of milk and stock or broth to add more flavor to the croquette, but never alter the total amount of liquid, otherwise you’ll have to waste the whole batch. Which is not uncommon the first trials. To avoid it, make sure you take your time, weigh everything, and don’t rush.
Place the butter in a pot, and let melt. Add the flour, sifted, and stir with whisk, to slightly cook the flour and ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. When light brown, add the liquid luke warm, and stir staright away and constantly to avoid lumps and ensure the sauce thickens evenly. The bechamel will be ready after mínimum 20 minutes. At this point you may add the flavor and cook for some extra 5 minutes. Place the mixture into a tray and let cool down you can form small portions. Mixture can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.
Remember, don’t rush, the texture of a croquette is almost half of it’s flavour. Yes, the creaminess will ensure it melts, along with all it’s intensity in your palate.
For O, caramelised onions
1 large sweet onion
Cut the onion finely in julienne and sauté in a pan with a pinch of salt but no oil. It’ll start releasing water, due to osmosis. Let that water evaporate, and when it starts browning add a drizzle of oil. before adding the oil you can degalce with some white wine, which definetly adds flavour but also speeds up the caramelization process due to all the sugars it conatins.
Lower the heat and let caramelize until golden brown. If needed add a splash of water to avoid from burning.
For F, flavor
300g of flavor
As we mentioned previoulsy, the flavor can be pretty much anything
Here are some very traditional options
- Ham or proscuito if you can’t find spanish ham.
- Roasted chicken. You can add the chicken plane, minced or you could add all the veggie yu roasted along with the chicken, like garlic, carrots, tomatoes, onions…
- Cheese ; you’d add grated cheese of your choice to the bechamel when this is ready, stir in until melted and combined.
- Fish, prawns, salted cod, minced.
Once the mixture is ready to manipulate, beat a couple eggs and prepare a tray with breadcrumbs or panko. Scoop tablespoons of cooled mixture, and shape with floured hands into 2-inch ovals. Coat in breadcrumb mixture, then beaten egg, and finally in breadcrumb mixture again . Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When you’re ready to cook, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the croquettes (work in batches) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown.
The result C, delicious Croquettes, individual bites, that will make everyone at the house happy!