I don’t know anyone in Spain who doesn’t love croquetas, and they’re one of those dishes that always taste 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 Carlota invited her entire class to Jaleo, it was the croquetas that her 30 classmates devoured.—José Andrés
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup finely chopped jamón serrano (Spanish cured ham)
6 ounces chicken, boiled and shredded (leftover chicken from making stock is ideal)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1. Heat the butter in a medium saute pan over a medium flame. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent, 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and mix energetically. Cook for 5 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.
2. Add the ham and chicken, and sprinkle in the salt and nutmeg. Cook for another 2 minutes. You should now have a thick mixture that you can mold in your hands. Carefully pick up a bit and try to ball it with your hands. It shouldn’t be too sticky. If it does stick to your hands, cook it a little longer.
3. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and let it cool to room temperature.
4. Take a spoonful of the cooled 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 1 cup of flour, then in the eggs, and then in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the croquetas.
5. In a small, deep frying pan, heat the olive oil to 375°F (190°C) (measured with a candy 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.
Recipe © 2005 by José Andrés. All rights reserved.