Spanish Recipe, Ham and cheese croquetas

What are Croquetas?  Rather than being filled with potatoes, Spanish croquetas are filled with a creamy bechamel sauce. In Spain, these are traditionally served in bars and restaurants as a tapas dish. Spanish coquetas can include a variety of other fillings added to the bechamel, like chicken, mushrooms, spinach, cheese or salt cod.  Here is a simple easy Spanish Recipe for Ham and Cheese Croquetas which are perfect served with tomato chilli jam


25g butter
½ small onion, finely chopped
50g plain flour
250ml milk
140g sliced smoked ham, diced or Iberico Ham 
50g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
50g Gruyère, or just use 100g Manchego Cheese (no cheddar) 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

For the tomato chilli jam
300g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped (deseeded if you don't like it too hot)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
100g demerara sugar
100ml red wine vinegar

Spanish Recipe, Ham and Cheese Croquetas

Method for Ham and Cheese Croquetas

To make the croquetas, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and gently fry the onion for 3 mins or until lightly coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for 30 secs. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, and cook over a low heat for 5 mins until thick and glossy. Stir in the ham, cheese, mustard and cream, and season to taste. Cook for 1 min more until the cheese melts, stirring constantly, this should now be a thick mixture.

Pour into a shallow bowl or lined baking tray and cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming. Leave to cool, then chill for 6 hrs or even better 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 the breadcrumbs in a bowl.   

If you do not have any shop bought breadcrumbs, use a day old baguette and just use a cheese grater to make the perfect breadcrumbs.

Roll each of the croquetas lightly in flour, then in egg before coating in breadcrumbs,  if you want them extra crispy repeat the egg and breadcrumb coating process. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Chill for 30 mins

Meanwhile, make the tomato chilli jam. Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover loosely with a lit and cook for 50 mins - 1 hr, stirring occasionally, until thick and glossy. Leave to cool before serving.

Fill a large saucepan one-third full with the sunflower oil and heat to 180C (or heat the oil in an electric deep-fat fryer). 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. 

Spanish Recipe, Ham and cheese croquetas

Transfer to a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil, and continue cooking the rest. Serve with the chilli jam for dipping.

To Freeze

Open-freeze the croquetas either before frying or when they are cooked and cooled, until solid. Transfer to a freezer-proof container, interleaving with baking parchment. Cover and freeze for up to 1 month.

Reheat the croquetas on a baking tray lined with baking parchment in a preheated oven at 200C, 180C fan/gas 6 for 8 mins or fry them as instructed in the recipe. Make sure they get hot right to the middle.

Freeze the tomato chilli jam in a small freezer bag. To serve, thaw the tomato chilli jam overnight in the fridge, or at room temperature for about 1 hr, and stir well before serving. 




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