Croqueta (noun): A fried ball of heavenly goodness usually containing some kind of meat or vegetable like ham, chicken, mushroom or potato
Croquetas or croquettes, conceptually speaking are easy to make. You mix a few basic ingredients together, stick them in the fridge for an hour, form them into shapes, coat it in breadcrumbs and fry.
Without getting into the details it’s a five step process, that involves ingredients you probably already have at home. As easy as they are to make, they can also be annoying to formulate.
Growing up, the only time I ate croquetas was when I visited my relatives in Spain because, as I mentioned before, croquetas are annoying to make and my mother didn’t have the time or the extra hands to make them. Then one day, through the aid of our trusty Spanish cookbook I decided to make croquetas. This brilliant idea and actual happening took place several years ago, and since the first tumultuous attempt I have since become better at making them.
Without further ado, and before I continue down the winding path of my childhood here is the recipe for croquetas and all you need to know about making them.
For the base you will need: 1 small white onion, 3 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons flour, and 1 cup milk.
To be honest, you can probably get away with a red onion if that’s all you have and you can substitute the butter for oil. Sometimes a recipe can be viewed as guidelines, not do or die instructions. Mince the onion or chop it up in your food processor for smaller pieces, then throw it in the pan with butter until it is transparent.
While the onion is cooking you can prep the filling. You will need roughly 3-3.5 cups of filling, if you’re a little under or over it doesn’t really matter. Having a food processor on hand makes chopping up and measuring the filling that much easier.
It’s important to note if your filling is watery. Drying your food comes into play later when you’re waiting for your stuff to solidify. In this case I used ham from a package, and as unappetizing as it sounds the ham was a bit wet. It needed to be dried off before mincing. It needed to be but naturally I didn’t realize this until after.
It’s usually after this point that I realize my onions are beginning to phase out of transparency. One of the tricks to cooking is actually paying attention, especially if you have multiple steps happening at once. This is a trick I have yet to master completely.
You mix in the flour, then the milk and proceed to stir or whisk it till the roux thickens. Add some salt and ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg. Remove from the heat and add your filling. Continue mixing everything together. Once that’s done, spread it out over a pan, I use pizza trays, cover it with foil and set in the fridge for an hour or until solid.
Due to the wetness of the ham after an hour in the fridge I stuck the pan in the freezer for twenty minutes to help freeze everything. I also had my brother and sister roll the balls to cut back on defrosting time. So take note, mushrooms or eggplants or shrimp would need to be dried beforehand.
All that takes less than twenty minutes, it’s the next part that’s a pain.
While your croqueta mixture is hardening or after you’ve deemed it ready, you can set up your breading station. You’ll need a bowl of flour, three eggs beaten and a bowl of bread crumbs. Taking a bit of the croqueta, form it into a ball, roll it in flour, dunk it into the egg, cover it in breadcrumbs and set aside into a plate or something.
Once you’ve finished with the tedious part of making croquetas, you can fry them or freeze them for another time. Since everything is already cooked, fry them a little on each side and enjoy. If you freeze them first, fry them when desired but set them in the oven to defrost the inside and bam they’re ready to eat.
Although the final product and photos prove that my croquetas are nowhere near perfect, the real lesson is you can fry anything and it’ll be delicious. If that fails, Just Add Salt (or scrap the batch and fry again).