This is it.
The final recipe from my Spanish Tapas Project and the reason that I decided to prepare all these dishes in the first place.
My other dishes would be support for the finest croquettes or croquetas, if you want to be all fancy and Spanish.
Over the years that we have visited Spain, I always opt for a detour to a local tapas bar and ensure there is a portion of olives and a few croquetas to go with a smooth and easy Spanish lager, like Estrella Damm or Cruz Campo.
I always found Spanish croquetas to be far smooth and creamier than their British counterparts, which are a little chunkier and have a much firmer texture.
It was only through a little research online that the reason for this would be the replacement of the potato for a creamy béchamel.
My plan, now, was to create a béchamel sauce that is loaded with leek and Spanish ham. The béchamel would be cooked thoroughly until left with a very thick mixture that can be shaped, crumbed and deep-fried.
I was skeptical about how they would hold, but the results speak for themselves and I managed to produce some Damm fine croquetas.
– Yeah, that was intentional.
Join me as I show you the miracle of béchamel filled croquetas – An absolute triumph and something that I’m really proud of cooking up.
Ingredients for Stage 1
- 55g Spanish Cured Ham (Finely Chopped)
- ½ Small Leek (Finely Chopped)
- 60g Unsalted Butter
- 60g Plain Flour
- 500ml Whole Milk
- Nutmeg (For Grating)
Ingredients for Stage 2
- 2 Eggs (beaten)
- 150g Breadcrumbs
- 25g Manchego Cheese (Grated)
- 1 litre Vegetable Oil (For Frying)
Method for Stage 1
- Heat the butter in a pan until it has fully melted then add the chopped leek and cook for a minute.
- Add the ham and cook for a further 5 minutes until the fat has melted and the leek has softened.
- Add the flour and mix with the butter thoroughly to ensure there aren’t any lumps. Allow this mixture to cook for about 5 or 10 minutes to lose some of that raw flour flavour.
- Gradually add the milk until it has incorporated fully with the flour mixture and is perfectly smooth. Allow this mixture to cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture resembles smooth and creamy mash potato.
It will become quite firm but still fairly gloopy in texture.
- Pour into a bowl and add cling film, allowing the film to touch the mixture so that a skin doesn’t form.
Allow this mixture to sit and cool for around 2 hours until completely set.
Method for Stage 2
- When you’re ready to cook you need to get a few things ready and lined up to make the following steps easier. A bowl with the beaten eggs, a bowl with the breadcrumbs & cheese and a flat plate or surface for the shaped croquetas.
- Take a tablespoon, scoop portions of the mixture then roll & shape into a cylinder shape with your hands.
Pop this béchamel cylinder into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumb mixture and coat well – Keep this going until all the mixture has been used up.
- Heat a pan with the vegetable oil until it hits around 180°C or until breadcrumbs bubble when you drop some in the oil.
Maintain this temperature and cook your croquetas in portions for few minutes until they are golden brown and cooked through – Mine took around 5 to 6 minutes.
- Lift them out with a slotted spoon and allow them to rest on a tray lined with kitchen roll to soak up that additional oil.
- Keep this going until they are all cooked through and you are ready to serve the best croquetas that you have ever tasted.
Any other pointers?
This is one of those recipes where it pays to be ahead of the game and have everything ready to go.
Make sure all of the ingredients are within grabbing distance. So, get those bowls ready for the egg & breadcrumbs and line a tray with kitchen roll for the finished product.
The recipe looks like a lot but if you break it down, it’s actually pretty easy.
When shaping the croquetas, I had a large bowl filled with warm water to rinse my hands after each shaping so that nothing sticks to them and the croquetas themselves remain evenly shaped ready for the oil dunking.
Instead of using kitchen roll, you could get away with using a wire rack to allow any oil to drip off the croquetas into a tray.
Who needs spuds!