Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lady of Spain

OMG! I made croquetas! I can't believe it.
You know croquetas...those yummy little nibbles at Jaleo Restaurant!

Serrano ham and chicken fritters

Croquetas de jamón serrano y pollo

Makes about 18 fritters
(halved from recipe in: tapas: a taste of spain in america by josé andrés)

4 TB Butter
¼ cup, finely diced Spanish onion
1 ¼ cup flour
2 cups whole milk
¼ cup finely chopped Spanish cured ham (jamón serrano)
3 oz chicken, boiled and shredded
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

I don’t know anyone in Spain who doesn’t love croquetas, and they are one of those dishes that always tastes better at home. But today many tapas restaurants offer a huge variety of croquetas, filling them with different mixtures. At my Jaleo restaurants they are one of our most popular tapas, proving that good taste travels. When my daughter Carolota inviter her entire class to Jaleo, it was the croquetas that her thirty classmates devoured. –Chef Andrés

Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over a medium flame. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent, 5 minutes. Add ½ the flour and mix energetically. Cook for five minutes to make sure the flour is cooked through; it should start to take on a golden color. Pour the milk into the flour mixture and cook, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes, until you have a thick béchamel.

Add the ham and the chicken, and sprinkle in the salt and nutmeg. Cook for another 2 minutes. You should now have a thick mixture you can mold in your hands. Carefully pick up a bit and try to ball it in your hands. It shouldn’t be too sticky. If it does stick to your hands, cook it a little longer. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and let it cool to room temperature.

Take a spoonful of the cooked béchamel mixture and roll it in your hands to make a small cylinder the size of a wine cork. Roll the cylinder in the remaining flour, then in the eggs and then in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the croquetas.

In a small, deep frying pan, heat the oil to 375 (measured with a thermometer). Add the croquetas in small batches, making sure they are covered completely in oil. Fry until they have a nice golden color, about 1 minute; then transfer them to paper towels to drain. Repeat with all the croquetas, and serve hot.

Jose’s tips: Croquetas are highly versatile, adaptable to whatever you have on hand. This recipe is a starting point. Instead of jamón serrano you can use more chicken, boiled egg, or other types of ham if you like. You can even add leftover crab or shrimp.

Tips and Photos

Safeway didn't have Serrano Ham...big suprise. So, following Chef Andres' tips, I substituted and went with some finely chopped smoked bacon. A good substitute!

Yum. Butter and Onions! I used 1/2 a small yellow onion.

I simmered one chicken breast in some chicken stock, until it was about 30 seconds from being done. This wasn't on purpose, it was on accident. But the I was fine with it and then when I tossed the chicken into the béchamel, it finished cooking. I didn't shredd it either. It was finely chopped.

I think this was a mistake. I think I had too much flour that I added to the onion/butter. But I kept worries. But note to self, when I do this again, make sure to add the flour bit by bit, until the butter has taken all it can.

Safeway also didn't have a small jug of milk, just the large two gallon jugs which would be such a I went with 1/2 & 1/2. I did about 1 1/2 cups of 1/2 & 1/2 and 1/2 a cup of water. (1/2 & 1/2 & 1/2 & that line looks confusing...!) But keep stirring. Those lumps will start to come out.

I'm not sure if this was supposed to happen either, but it all came together. The gluten formed and the whole mess started to pull into a ball. Keep moving forward!

All dumped out on a plate to cool.

Formed into shape. Corks. That plate of mix would have made about 18 croquetas. I only made about 1/2 of them. If you make these for a party, plan on about 3 per person, if you have more food. Since this was our dinner, I think we had about 5 each, plus the other goodies we had.

The money shot!
We had croquetas, cheese, smoked almonds, salami, roasted peppers and some bread. And Wine! I was so pleased! The texture was...if perfect is 5, 1 is sloppy and icky and 10 is leather chewy...the texture was about a 6. Maybe a touch more milk/cream or a little bit less of flour? I'll have to try again?!?!


DC Food Blog said...

So those croquette were made from a bachamel and no potato? Fascinating. Love your whole Spanish meal thing going on.

ScottE. said...

No potato!

Mmmm, tapas. There are many more I can't wait to try, best to have a party for that!

Dancer in DC said...

Tapas on a Wednesday! Who knew?

joyous said...

You are my hero. I was actually AT Jaleo last night, but I didn't have the croquettes. I had the Butternut squash soup and spanish cheeses. And sangria. Lots and lots of sangria.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, Jaleo has butternut squash soup? Must try!

And I'm loving this Spanish meal experiment, too. Those croquetas look yummy!