Croquetas de Jamon
I’ve always loved croquetas. Whenever I go for tapas they are always the first item I order. Along with patatas bravas, they epitomise the tapas experience – bite sized, flavourful and perfect with a beer. Despite being a big fan of the gooey little wonders, I had never thought to make them myself. I expected them to be a lot of work but upon researching recipes, I realised that nothing could be further from the truth. A thick bechemel, breaded and fried – it really is that easy!
Garlic and Smoked Paprika Mayo
Mayonaise can be a funny business to make. The risk of it all going pear shaped means that most home cooks consider it a bit of a liability and rely on the shop bought stuff instead. This is a bit of a tragedy as homemade mayo is something completely different to the pale white, tasteless concoction that can sit in the fridge for months unend. Although I have always made my own mayo, I was excited to see a much simpler way to make it in Nigella Lawson’s At My Table cookbook. Ensure all your ingredients at room temperature and away you go – there’s no excuse now!
Makes about 24
65g Plain Flour
500 ml Milk
a good grating of Nutmeg
50g Manchego Cheese (grated)
80g Jamon Serrano (finely chopped)
2 Eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Sunflower Oil for deep frying
Garlic and Smoked Paprika Mayonaise:
1 Organic Egg
1 large clove of Garlic (peeled and halved)
1 tsp Hot Smoked Paprika
2 tsp White Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Water
150 ml Sunflower Oil
100 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
pinch of Pepper
Put the butter into a pan over a medium heat. Once it has melted add the flour and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes being careful not to burn the mixture. Slowly add the milk while whisking all of the time and continue to whisk until the bechemel comes to a boil and thickens.
Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 8 minutes before adding the cheese and jamon. Stir well to combine – the heat of the sauce will melt the cheese. Check for seasoning – the croquetas need to be well seasoned or they will be bland and disappointing.
Transfer the sauce to an oiled baking tray and place a layer of cling film on top. Press the cling film down so that it touches the entire surface of the sauce – this will stop a skin from forming. Put the sauce into the fridge and allow to set for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile make the mayo. Put all of the ingredients into a tall but narrow container that isn’t much wider than a hand blender. Put the blender to the very bottom and turn on. When you start to see foam rising from the bottom, move the blender up and down until the mix is incorporated. If the sauce is too thick, stir in a tablespoon of water to loosen. Cover and refrigerate until needed
Once the bechemel has set, put the eggs into a wide bowl and the breadcrumbs onto a large plate. Season both with salt and pepper and add the chilli flakes to the breadcrumbs. Stir to combine.
Remove the cling film from the bechemel and, with floured hands, form the mix into small balls. Roll the croquetas in the beaten egg before transferring into the crumbs. Roll around to cover and put onto a tray while you do the rest.
When you are ready to cook the croquetas, fill a pan no more than 1/3 full with sunflower oil. You do need the oil to be a couple of inches deep but you can use a small diameter pan to save on oil and cook in batches. Taking all necessary precautions, heat the oil to 180 degrees C. It is advisable to use a thermometer here as you don’t want the oil to be too hot or too cold. Better yet, use a deep fryer!
Carefully lower the croquetas into the oil and cook until golden brown and piping hot throughout. It is important not to overcrowd the pan during cooking as you will lower the temperature of the oil too much, giving a soggy result. Drain the croquetas on kitchen paper and serve immediately with the garlic and smoked paprika mayo and a cold beer.