Spanish Recipe: Las Croquetas
The croqueta (croquette) has become an irreplaceable item on the Spanish menu; you can even find restaurants that specialize in this dish. But what is it that makes this dish so popular?
Although it is French in origin, the croqueta has become a staple of the Spanish kitchen thanks to what is called "cocina de aprovechamento" or cooking with leftovers. This is because for the elaboration of the croquetas most people use the leftovers from the previous day's meal, especially if the dish was a hearty cocido. In fact, in many Spanish homes and restaurants there is a tradition to eat cocido on Wednesday, while on Thursday, the leftovers (usually chicken or ham) are used to make the dish that we are talking about now.
Now that you know this, how do you make some authentic croquetas? Well, first we will need the following ingredients: oil, milk, flour, garlic, onion, parsley, egg, breadcrumbs and anything else we want to "give it substance". This means that we can add chicken, ham, bacalao (salt cod), wild mushrooms and the list goes on and on…
With this variety of ingredients, preparing it is fairly easy:
In a pan add little oil and our ingredient of "substance" along with a little chopped garlic. We can also include the onion while stirring frequently until it the ingredients have been sufficiently blended and softened. Now we will cover the mixture with a coating of flour and stir until it is evenly blended. When the flour has been blended, we will now add the milk. The mixture should blend together into a creamy mass. If it is too thin, you can add a little flour and if it is too thick you can add a little more milk. Now, take the mixture off the heat and let cool.
Once it has cooled, you should be able to take a portion of the mixture (about the size of a golf ball) and form it into a cylindrical tapered shape. Once shaped, dip each piece in an egg wash and cover in breadcrumbs. Now add the uncooked croqueta to a pan with abundant oil for frying or into a deep fryer if you one. Cook until golden brown, remove and let the pieces drain on a paper towel.
That's it! See how easy it is to make some excellent croquetas! You shouldn't worry if you have leftover croquetas since they can last easily another day and if you didn't already know; cold croquetas are also considered a delicacy!