One of my oldest and most favorite memories was making a croqueta prep assembly line with my sister and 7 other cousins on the counter of Yaya’s kitchen. We each had different jobs on any given day, but she would split us up into the rollers, the egg dippers and the galleta molida dippers. She also almost always made corrections to our form.
I never thought I would be able to make a homemade croqueta without her. She passed away before I got to sit her down and have show me the way. Luckily, Chef Ani came along and she broke it down. I don’t like to say that we completely nailed it, but (we did!)
As Ani likes to say, we are keeping the Cuban tradition alive one recipe at a time.
- 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced (it’s about a cup)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 cups of ground ham (I like using Boar’s head simplicity Ham) *
- ½ cup of ground jamón serrano *
- ⅛ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon vino seco
- ½ cup of all purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of whole milk
- ¼ cup of finely chopped parsley
- ½ cup of panko bread crumbs, finely ground in food processor
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1.5 cups of fine cracker meal (galleta molida)
- Oil for frying (I like canola/olive oil blend or peanut oil for frying)
* You add the Boar’s head ham and jamon serrano into a food processor and grind it down. Easy and quick.
In a large pot add butter and onions, nutmeg, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper and cook until tender but make sure they never brown or get too much color (about 8-10 minutes).
Meanwhile warm the milk either in a microwave or on the stove top so it is at room temperature or slightly warm. This will help the bechamel be more smooth.
On low heat, add the flour to the butter and onions mixture and cook out the raw taste of the flour for another 6-8 minutes. Raise the temperature to medium high and gradually whisk in the vino seco and milk. Try to incorporate everything evenly.
Constantly whisk to be sure the milk doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom. In the next 3-5 minutes the bechamel should be very thick. Add the remaining salt and more black pepper.
Stir in the hams and parsley until well combined. Cook together for two minutes.
Spoon out mixture in a shallow platter and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least two hours in fridge. It needs to cool and this allows the mixture to stick together.
Have ready a medium shallow platter with beaten eggs. In another shallow platter add the pulsed bread crumbs and cracker meal. And lastly a platter to place the breaded croquetas.
Remove the mixture from the fridge and begin forming 2-inch logs with your hands.
Dip a croqueta into the beaten eggs, then roll in the crumbs. Transfer the breaded croqueta to the other platter. Do this until you have the amount you want to make. You can make the entire ham mixture, or save some for later. Your choice.
Heat 2-inches of oil in a frying pan to medium heat.
Fry the croquetas about 2 minutes on one side then another two minutes on the other. If one side is not that golden try to leave it on that side a minute more. (I like using a fish spatula to turn them).
Drain them on a rack or with paper towel.
Eat immediately with a squeeze of lime!
Note – you can form croquetas and keep them in the fridge for two days before frying or in freezer for up to two months.
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