With the blast of cold in the air last week, fall is officially here, and so is my craving for fantastically fried goodies. Enter, the Croquette. This little fried bundle is hot, salty and has so many condiment possibilities. There’s a version of Croquette in many countries, all using a different base and filling. We’re focusing on the Spanish Croquette, which has an extra thick béchamel base (a ha! Curdis’ béchamel strikes again), and either Jamón Serrano, Ibérico or chicken, and sometimes cheese stirred in. This is often a way to turn leftovers into a dazzling, sizzling snack.
To me, this just begs for the addition of cheese, but a carefully chosen one. I went with the Gran Queso, which is back at the shop after a brief hiatus. Inspired by Spanish and Portuguese cheeses, the special blend of spices rubbed on the rind of Gran Queso brings a perfect balance of warm brown butter and light salt to compliment the Jamón Serrano.
This little Croquette delight is classically served with other Spanish favorites like Aiöli or Mebrillo, but it’s open to so many other options: spicy honey, apricot jam, hot sauce, pickled cherries, and more!
Gran Queso Croquettes
1/3 pound Jamón Serrano, finely diced (about 3⁄4 cup)
1/8 pound Gran Queso, grated (about 1⁄2 cup)
2 tablespoons shallot, finely diced
4 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
canola oil for frying
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. When the butter is melted, add the shallot and Serrano and sauté for about 1-2 minutes. Add in the flour and stir until combined and looks crumbly. Continue to cook over heat for about 1 minute.
- Stir in the milk and bring to a boil; reduce heat and continue stirring until smooth and paste like. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Spread mixture into a cake pan or similar and cover with plastic wrap, directly on top so to avoid a skin. Refrigerate mixture to cool and set, 2 hours up to 24 hours.
- Remove from refrigerator and using a 1 ounce scoop (about 2 tablespoons), shape into rounds. Roll each croquette in the flour first, egg, then breadcrumbs. (At this point, you can line these up on a sheet pan, wrap and freeze for used at a later time. Fry them up right out of the freezer, about 4-5 minutes to get crispy and heated through.)
- In a deep sauté pan, heat about 1/2 inch of oil and fry until golden brown on all sides, and heated through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and season with fine sea salt. Serve with aiöli, lemon wedges and membrillo dusted with cayenne pepper.
Makes 24 Croquettes