This is an adaptation of Spanish croquettes from chef Jose Pizarro. I had the good fortune to have a cooking course from him in London and having lunch in his restaurant and several variations of this recipe are always on his menu. These can be eaten plain or pair with a dipping sauce such as my Romesco Sauce
I recommend to make the full batch size below even if you don’t need that quantity immediately. There is a lot of overhead to make these with the batter and deep frying, so making extra doesn’t add much effort. The croquettes can be frozen after frying and reheated later in an oven directly from the freezer (about 25-30 minutes at 175C/350F)–a great treat on those nights when you don’t feel like cooking.
Note: Plan ahead with your meal planning–the croquette batter needs several hours to chill, or make the day before.
Makes about 12 large or 24 small croquettes
- milk, full fat: 650 mL/20 oz
- butter: 80 g/6Tb
- flour: 120 g/1 cup
- leek: the white and bit of light green part, about 500g/20 oz
- serrano (dried) ham: 50 g/1.7 oz
- olive oil: a couple Tb (for cooking the leek)
- salt and pepper: to taste
- egg: 2
- breadcrumbs: traditional or Panko, about 120 g/1.5 cups
- flour: for dusting
- Cook the leek. Finely dice the leek. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add some olive oil. Cook the leek stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, finely dice the ham, and stir into the leek mixture.
- Prepare the béchamel base. In a small saucepan, heat the milk to a simmer. In a separate pan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Whisk in the flour and stir the mixture over the heat for 4-5 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk and constantly whisk. Keep whisking for 5-7 minutes until the mixture thickens and all lumps are gone. Remove from the heat.
- Assemble the mixture. Add the ham-leek to the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste–season the mixture well as this will be the majority of the taste in the final product.
- Chill the mixture to thicken. Spread the mixture into a baking dish or large plastic storage container. Chill in the fridge for minimum of 2 hours or over night. (Chilling allow the mix to thicken enough to form firm balls for the frying stage.)
- Form the balls. The croquettes can be made in a small or large size–for larger, form balls of about 60 g/2 oz or 30 g/1 oz for smaller. Beat the eggs in a small bowl with a fork. Place the flour in a 2nd bowl, and the breadcrumbs in a third. Take a portion of croquette out of the mixture and form into balls. Roll each ball into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs.
- Fry. Heat oil in a deep fryer (or deep frying pan) to 175 C/350 F. Fry a few balls at a time for about 3 minutes for small balls or 6-7 minutes for the larger. Rotate the balls with a fork while frying to get an even cooking. Remove, drain on paper towels, add a pinch of salt and serve.