All about Spanish Croquettes, One of Spain’s Essential Tapas
Croquettes are one of Spain’s most popular tapas, and a staple in most Spanish kitchens, as well. These delicious little bites are everything you look for in a comfort food: crispy, salty, crunchy, and tasty. Read on to learn more about this essential Spanish favorite and how to make them!
What are croquettes?
Croquettes came about as a way to not waste any scrap of food, especially meat. To use up leftover meat or vegetables, these bits are thrown together with bechamel sauce and fried to golden perfection. It’s a great way to make sure that no food in the fridge goes to waste! Croquettes came to Spain from France, the latter of which use creamy potatoes as a base. While the French use potatoes for their croquettes, Spaniards use bechamel. This is a rich, creamy sauce that is the result of butter, flour, and milk, like a roux. In Spain, these delicious bites are called croquetas, and they are a tapas bar favorite.
Croquettes can feature any number of ingredients, namely meat, vegetables, and cheese. The most popular variety are croquetas de jamón, using savory Spanish ham. Some other popular croquettes include the following varieties:
- Pollo (chicken)
- Bacalao (codfish)
- Setas or boletus (mushrooms)
- Espinacas (spinach)
- Queso (cheese)
- Cocido (Spanish stew)
- Pulpo (octopus)
These are some of the more popular croquettes that you can find at tapas bars, but the sky’s the limit, really! You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand, or whatever your taste buds prefer.
How to make them
Ready to make your own croquettes? Here’s what you’ll need to make croquetas de jamón:
- 0.5L whole milk
- 100g cup of all-purpose flour
- 200 mL of chicken or meat broth
- 1 spoonful of butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 250g of Spanish ham, finely chopped
- 30mL extra virgin olive oil
- 1 spoonful of corn starch
- 2 eggs
- 150g of breadcumbs
- salt and nutmeg, to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil for frying
Now that you have all of your ingredients ready, let’s make some croquettes! Note that the dough should be made about a day in advance. While croquettes take some time to prepare, they aren’t very difficult and are absolutely delicious.
- Finely chop the onion and Spanish ham. Try to chop the pieces as small as possible, especially the onion, and then set aside.
- Drop one generous spoonful of butter and 2 spoonfuls of oil into a large frying pan. Set the flame to low heat, add in the onion, and stir.
- As you continue stirring, stir in the ham. Sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients are well-combined.
- After about 3-4 minutes on low heat, stir in flour. The flour needs to brown a bit, but keep stirring continuously so that it doesn’t burn. Stir in the milk gradually, continuously stirring.
- After all the milk has been completely added in, it’s time to incorporate the broth and corn starch. The key to croquettes is to never stop stirring, so keep going! While stirring, toss in a pinch of nutmeg and another pinch of salt.
- Once the dough begins to take form and is no longer sticking to the pan, transfer the dough to a bowl so that it can cool down. Cover the dough and out it in the fridge to cool and solidify, ideally for 24 hours.
- Once your dough is ready, take a spoonful of dough and roll it into an ovular shape. Repeat this until all of the dough has been used up.
- Heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan. You want at least half and inch of oil to ensure that the croquettes fry evenly.
- Beat 2 eggs into a small bowl and pour breadcrumbs into another. Dip each croquette into the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs, and then drop them into the frying pan. Fry the croquettes until they are golden brown.
- Take the croquettes out of the pan and transfer to a paper toil to soak up any excess oil. Serve immediately and enjoy!
If you want to try some traditional Spanish croquettes, join Food Lover Tour on an amazing culinary adventure!