A taste of Spain: Croquetas de Jamón / Serrano ham croquettes (reposting as I’m entering this to the easyJet competition)
Please send me on holiday to Barcelona!
A taste of Spain: Croquetas de Jamón / Serrano ham croquettes
These little babies were my lifesaver when I was in Barcelona last week…
My colleagues and I were so busy that we barely found time to eat so it wasn’t until about 10pm on Day 2 of the conference that we finally made it to a tapas restaurant for a meal (and a welcome chance to sit down).
In all honesty, the restaurant we found wasn’t particularly good but they did make a mean Croquetas de Jamón – I’d never had one before but, mmmmmm, I loved it!
We found a better tapas place the next evening, and I made it a point of ordering croquetas again; in fact, I had to make another order after that as our table of 7 devoured them as quickly as they arrived.
I therefore made it my mission this weekend to make some myself. My colleague, the one who’d introduced me to them, thought they were quite difficult to make but they’re so not. They are however terribly bad for the old waistline so it’s best I don’t attempt these again for a very, very long time – such a shame because they taste so divine! When your fork first cracks the breadcrumbed coat, you expect something crispier on the inside but instead, there’s something richly decadent when your forks ends up plunging into a fluffy pillow of melt-in-your-mouth savoury goodness.
I based my recipe on a recipe for croquetas from a website, aptly named Spain Recipes.
However, I think their recipe uses far too much oil because I ended up using a paper towel to blot as much of the oil out of the bechamel-like sauce as possible.
I flavoured my croquetas with serrano ham, sweet smoked paprika and fresh chives but you can replace it with almost anything you like – salt cod is meant to be another traditional filling but my friends tell me boiled eggs, chorizo or cheese works just as well. FYI, you do need to make the filling in advance to give it as much time to set as possible but trust me, it’s well worth the effort!
Serrano ham croquettes / Croquetas de Jamón (my batch made 15 croquettes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Oil for frying
4 tablespoons salted butter (about 60 grams)
3 (very) heaped tablespoons of flour
1½ cups whole milk, heated
70 grams jamón serrano or other dry-cured ham, finely chopped
Salt/pepper for seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
Lots of extra fine breadcrumbs (I blitzed half a stale baguette and it worked brilliantly!)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
Over a medium high heat, melt your butter and oil together in a saucepan and add your flour, using a wooden spoon to stir the flour continuously.
Add ½ cup of milk initially, stir well and then In a saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Your mixture should already start to thicken and when it does, add the rest of your milk. Keep stirring it over a medium heat to stop it from forming lumps. Turn the heat down slightly and keep mixing for about 8-10 minutes.
Add the ham, chives, paprika and some salt/pepper to season and keep stirring.
Pour your mixture into a small baking dish and allow it to cool and set (ideally overnight in the fridge or at least for 3-4 hours)
Prepare making the croquettes, beat your two eggs in a separate bowl and get your breadcrumbs ready on a plate.
Shape your croquetas into the desired shape and roll them first in the breadcrumbs, then into the egg, and then re-coat in more breadcrumbs.
To fry, heat at least 3-4 cm of oil in a pan until smoking hot. Fry your croquetas for 1-2 minutes, turning gently until golden brown. Don’t fry them in batches of more than 3-4 to ensure you don’t reduce the temperature of the oil.
Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in an oven while you fry all your croquetas.
Be careful when you eat them as they’ll be piping hot on the inside!
Lots of love