Carnival for Greeks is happening now (til March 2nd) and while there will be no parades or parties, one can still celebrate by cooking up some decadent dishes as home.
Enter croquettes…logs of fried goodness filled with potato, cheese or meat (or seafood). In this instance, I am going with diced ham.
In Holland, veal croquettes are popular and in Spain it’s the jamon croquettes. The commonality in these croquettes is a thick bechamel, your choice of filling and a bread crumb exterior that’s fried until golden-brown.
The key to a good croquette is for the bechamel to cool then place in the fridge to cool and set. If you place a still-warm mixture in the fridge, steam will be created and more moisture will be released. You will not be able to form your croquettes.
When chilled, it should resemble/have the consistency of jello, allowing you to form/roll your croquettes with ease.
(makes about 20)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (or olive oil)
3/4 cup finely diced onion
1 1/2 cups diced cooked ham
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups hot whole milk
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
approx. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
bread crumbs (seasoned bread crumbs or panko)
oil for frying
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or chives
- Into a medium pot over medium heat, add the butter and once melted, add the onions, stir in and saute for 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
- Add the ham, stir in and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the flour, stir-in and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- While whisking, add a steady stream of milk. Keep stirring until the your bechamel mixture has thickened. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
- Take off the heat. Pour mixture into a casserole dish to allow for quick cooling (and easier handling later).
- Allow to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
- The mixture should be firm, jiggly. Cut into equal portions and use your hands to roll into uniform logs.
- Set up your dredging station: one bowl with flour, another with beaten eggs and milk, the third with bread crumbs.
- Dip your croquettes in flour, egg then breadcrumbs and reserve on a platter.
- Heat your home deep fryer or a deep skillet with about 1 1/2 inches of oil. You are looking for the temperature of the oil to be about 350F.
- Fry your croquettes until golden, turning when needed so they fry evenly. Remove from oil and transfer to a paper-lined platter.
- Fry the remaining croquettes in batches. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with some finely chopped parsley or chives and serve warm.
© 2021, Peter Minaki. All rights reserved.
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