Croquetas de Jamón are a common sight on bar counters and in homes across Spain, served as a tapa, light lunch, or a dinner along with a salad. These tasty, deep-fried bites have been a firm favourite across snack & small plate menus in London over the past couple of years and I just can not resist them.
Croquetas are simply a breadcrumbed and fried roll of food leftovers, usually bound with béchamel sauce or mashed potatoes. This recipe shows you how to make a roux using cheddar and gruyère cheese and smoked ham. These can be made ahead and frozen, making them perfect for no-fuss entertaining as part of a buffet spread or starter.
Ingredients – Makes 24
For the filling
- 25g butter
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 50g plain flour
- 250ml milk
- 140g sliced smoked ham, diced
- 50g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
- 50g Gruyère, finely grated
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp double cream
For the coating
- 2 large eggs
- 50g plain flour
- 140g fine dried breadcrumbs
- Sunflower oil, for deep frying
To kick things off chop up the onion, grate all of the cheese and dice the ham. Then start melting the butter in a medium non-stick saucepan. Gently fry the onions for 3 minutes or until lightly coloured.
Stir the flour into the onions and cook for 30 seconds. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes until thick and glossy.
Add the ham, cheese, mustard and cream and a little bit of salt and pepper, seasoned to taste. Cook for 1 minute more until the cheese melts, stirring constantly.
Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming. Leave to cool, then chill for 4 hrs or overnight – the mixture needs to be very stiff to form the croquetas.
Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and, with wet hands, roll into 24 small oval shapes and put on a tray. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl, put the flour on a plate and half of the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
Roll each of the croquetas lightly in flour, then in egg before coating in breadcrumbs. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Use the remaining breadcrumbs to top up the bowl halfway through the coating process. Chill for 30 mins.
I used an electric deep-fat fryer to fry the croquetas but if you don’t have one of those fill a large saucepan one-third full with the sunflower oil and heat to 180C. Do not overheat and do not leave hot oil unattended. Using a metal slotted spoon, lower 6 croquets into the oil and cook for 1.5 mins or until golden brown. Transfer to a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil, and continue cooking the rest.
Serve with a tomato and chilli jam for dipping and enjoy!