Who doesn’t love tapas? With so many options, there’s something for everybody. I made a selection of tapas for myself and Mr Greedy to share last weekend, and this is the recipe I used for Croquetas de Jamon, adaped from Felicity Cloake of The Guardian’s original. Anybody who follows the blog regularly, you may notice a recurring theme: I love croquettes. Meat, potato, cheese – you name it, I love to cook it and shove it in my greedy gob. These are right up there as one of my favourites – the bechamel has such a warming, creamy flavour, and the ham provides the substance.
100g ham – cured spanish ham, such as serrano, is obviously the traditional choice and is recommended by felicity for this recipe; however, this can be very expensive. i bought a gammon joint at my local butchers, and cooked it myself with vegetables, herbs and pork stock until tender. it worked really well still and was a lot more cost effective!
2 tbsp olive oil
60g unsalted butter
1/2 a leek, finely diced
60g plain flour, plus extra for dusting croquettes before breadcrumbing
500ml whole milk, hot
nutmeg (felicity recommends fresh nutmeg to grate, but i used a dash of ground nutmeg)
2 x medium eggs, beaten
50g manchego cheese, finely grated
salt and pepper, to taste
sunflower oil, to deep fry
makes 16 smaller croquettes, or 8-10 larger (as per photo above)
- dice your ham up into tiny cubes. heat the oil and butter in a wide-set saucepan over a medium heat. once the butter has melted, add the finely diced leek and fry gently until it begins to soften. add the ham, and continue to fry until leeks have fully softened the ham fat has begun to render.
- turn the heat down, and stir in the flour gradually. cook until the flour has lost its raw flavour, continually stirring. this should take approx. 10 minutes.
- add the hot milk a little at a time, continuing to beat the mix with a wooden spoon. you’ll notice that the mixture quickly absorbs the milk, and will begin to thicken. once all of the milk is added, it should resemble a paste. continue to cook for approx. 10-15 minutes, regularly stirring. remove from the heat, and stir in 25g of the grated manchego cheese, and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- pop the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.
- lay out 3 small bowls – one with plain flour, one with the beaten egg mixture and one with the breadcrumbs, mixed with the remaining manchego cheese and a little cracked black pepper. using your hands, roll small handfuls of the mixture into a cylindrical croquette shape, then proceed to dip in the flour, egg and breadcrumbs.
- heat the sunflower oil in a large pan until it reaches 170°c. if you don’t own a kitchen thermometer, work around a medium-high heat and test it by dropping in a breadcrumb – if the oil sizzles and the breadcrumb turns a golden colour, you’re good to go. felicity recommends using olive oil, but i find it too heavy for deep frying. it’s also incredibly expensive – 1l of sunflower oil should only set you back 99p. set up a wire rack covered in kitchen roll for the croquettes to drain on after frying. using a metal slotted spoon, lower the croquettes into the oil in batches, and cook until golden brown. remove and place on the rack to drain of any excess oil. serve them asap – the hotter they are, the better they taste!