Ham Croquettes

Croquettes coverWe served these tasty morsels at a summer party and overheard one guest proclaiming they were “little bites of heaven.” That about sums it up. Served hot, the crispy exterior gives way to a velvety and savory interior that coats the entire mouth with pure deliciousness.

Ham Croquettes

For the croquettes:
4 ounces unsalted butter (one stick/8 tablespoons)
½ cup finely minced onion
1½ cups all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
9 ounces finely chopped prosciutto or serrano ham
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
½ – 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
2 cups extra virgin olive oil, for frying

For the breading:
1 cup all-purpose flour (use more if needed)
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups Panko bread crumbs (use more if needed)
Three large, flat bowls

Make the batter: Heat butter in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly for 5 minutes to lightly brown and thoroughly cook the flour. Pour in the milk and stir/whisk continuously for about 2 minutes, until a very thick béchamel is formed.

Stir in the ham and nutmeg; taste, and adjust salt. Cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes or until the mixture is very thick: turn a spoonful of batter upside down, and when as much batter stays on the spoon as falls off, it’s probably thick enough.

If the batter is too wet or sticky to easily mold into a ball, cook a little longer; the batter will become even easier to roll once it’s cooled. Allow batter to cool to room temperature before forming the croquettes.

Form the croquettes: Place each breading ingredient in a separate bowl. To form a croquette, take a pinch or small spoonful of batter and roll into small ball: a little smaller than a ping pong ball. Set aside and continue forming all of the remaining croquettes. If the batter sticks to your hands, wet hands lightly with water.

Bread the croquettes: Next, roll each one in flour to coat; gently shake off excess and set aside until all are coated. Then dip each one into the beaten eggs, gently shaking off excess, and set aside until all of them are coated. Finally, add a few croquettes at a time to the bread crumbs; toss gently to coat, shake off excess. Set breaded croquettes aside until all are breaded.

Fry the croquettes: In a small, deep frying pan – or a small sauce pan – heat the olive oil to 375 F. Add a few croquettes at a time and completely submerge them in the oil, but be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry about a minute, gently turning as needed, until they turn a uniform golden color.

Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the croquettes; transfer to paper towels to drain. Make sure to allow the oil to come back up to 375 F before adding the next batch or the croquettes may not brown nicely or firm up.

Serve them hot and crisp!

Yield: 60-75 pieces, depending on size
Recipe adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America

TIP: If making ahead, allow the croquettes to cool completely before freezing. To reheat, thaw completely and reheat in an oven or toaster oven (about 325 degrees F) until hot and crispy.

Step by Step Details

Before you start, Place each breading ingredient in a separate bowl. It’ll make things go faster later by doing this now. Ignore the eager croquettes that jumped into each bowl.

Croquettes-204656When making the batter, stir the melted butter and flour constantly to lightly brown and thoroughly cook the flour. If you smell the mixture right after adding the flour, it will smell very floury. No surprise there, right?

20150629_201613But after it cooks, the mixture will smell less like flour and more like butter. That’s when you know it’s time to pour in the milk.

Stir/whisk continuously for about 2 minutes, until a very thick béchamel is formed. You’ll know it’s thick enough when you start to see the pan through the sauce after stirring.

Croquettes-202240Stir in the ham and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes or until the mixture is very thick: turn a spoonful of batter upside down, and when as much batter stays on the spoon as falls off, it’s probably thick enough.

Another test is to take a bit of batter and roll it into a ball. If the batter is too wet or sticky to easily mold into a ball, cook a little longer. The good news is that the batter will become even easier to roll once it’s cooled.

Croquettes-202436Allow batter to cool to room temperature before forming the croquettes.

To form a croquette, take a pinch or small spoonful (I used a cookie dough scoop and it worked great) of batter and roll into a small ball: a little smaller than a ping pong ball.

20150629_204010If the batter sticks to your hands, wet hands lightly with water. Form all of the croquettes before continuing.

Next, roll each ball in flour to coat; gently shake off excess flour. Flour and set aside all the croquettes before continuing. 20150629_204539Dip each floured croquette into the beaten eggs, gently shaking off excess egg. You guessed it, set aside the egg-coated croquette and continue the egg wash step until all the croquettes are coated.

Finally, add a few croquettes at a time to the bread crumbs; toss gently to coat, shake off excess. Set aside breaded croquettes until all are breaded.

20150629_210612Heat the olive oil to 375 F. It’s important to make sure to wait until the oil is hot enough, and also be sure to allow the oil to come back up to 375 F before adding the next batch. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the croquettes will just absorb the oil rather than crisp up in it, leaving you with soggy, oily balls of mush. Yuck!

Add a few croquettes at a time and completely submerge them in the oil, but be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Give them some elbow room…or whatever croquettes have instead of elbows.

20150629_210757Fry about a minute, gently turning as needed, until they turn a uniform golden color. Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the croquettes.

Croquettes-210835Transfer to paper towels to drain.

20150629_212654When the oil reaches 375 F again, add the next batch. Continue until all are cooked. Serve them hot and enjoy!

TIP: If making ahead, allow the croquettes to cool completely before freezing. To reheat, thaw completely and reheat in an oven or toaster oven (about 325 degrees F) until hot and crispy.

CroquetteNote: I wrote up this recipe for Banfi Vintners and found that these creamy croquettes happen to pair amazingly well with any of their sparkling wines: Bolla Prosecco, Maschio Prosecco Brut or Banfi Rosa Regale. The light carbonation and gentle acidity balance out the creaminess of the croquettes and cleanse the palate for the next bite. And the next one after that. And so on…

 

 

 

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One thought on “Ham Croquettes

  1. Hi Diane! It’s Tommy Child from Houston Tx . We met at la fiesta tex mex restaurant a few months ago! I love your blog the food looks amazing! Keep on rocking it! Tommy

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