All you need to know about croquetas

This delicious Spanish sharing food is one of our favourites. Crispy on the outside and super light and creamy on the inside, the croqueta is a staple bar food all across the country. 

The name ‘croquette’ comes from the French word croquer, meaning crunch, and it’s diminutive ‘croquette’. 

If the word is of French origin, you can imagine that the first croquette was made in France. Antonin Careme served the dish under the name ‘croquettes a la royale’ at a banquet held by the Prince Regent of England in the 18th century. From this moment, the croquette was considered a nobleman’s food and was served at all the fancy parties.

The dish was born in a time when flour was in abundance and chefs needed a way of using up leftover meats and stews. It cropped up first on Spanish soil when Emilia Pardo Bazán made chicken and beef croquetas popular in 1913. The croqueta did appear in texts before this date however. Alexandre Dumas mentioned the dish in one of his texts in 1846.

Nowadays the dish has been adopted by multitude of Spanish chefs who have used the basic recipe as a vehicle for all sorts of flavours in including seafood, vegetables and different cheeses. 

CHEESE AND ONION CROQUETAS: The Recipe (makes approx. 25)

Ingredients

100g butter

100g flour + extra for breading

840ml milk

1 cup of breadcrumbs

1 medium onion diced

3 eggs

175g cheddar cheese

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Flavourless oil suitable for frying (I used vegetable oil)

Method

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the chopped onions to sauté until they are translucent and sweet. This should take around 5-7 minutes. You’re not looking for any colour necessarily. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add flour and stir vigorously for a minute or so to cook out the raw flour taste.
  • Lower the heat slightly and start adding your milk gradually whilst continuously stirring the mixture. Make sure you stir in each batch of milk thoroughly before adding some more.
  • You should be left with a very thin white sauce, don’t panic. Keep the pan over low/medium heat and stir, stir and stir some more. You can add the nutmeg at this stage. Your sauce will thicken as it heats up until you are left with a creamy bechamel. (See video for a visual reference)
  • Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese. This is the part where you can get really creative. We made a super simple version on this occasion but feel free to let your imagination run wild with different tasty mix-ins. Also, this is your last chance to adjust the seasoning of the filling so make sure to taste it, making sure it’s to your liking.
  • Pour into a freezer-safe bowl, cover with clingfilm making sure the clingfilm touches the top of the sauce and freeze for about 3 hours or until the mixture is firm enough to form into croquette shapes.
  • Carefully form the firmed mixture into croquette shapes and dip them in flour, beaten egg and then in seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Preheat the neutral oil to 350ºF/175ºC. You will know when your oil is ready for frying when you can drop a breadcrumb into it and it floats to the top, sizzling instantly.
  • Carefully lower your croquetas into the oil in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden, flipping once to ensure even browning. Drain on a paper towel or wire rack and leave to cool for a couple of minutes, they are super hot!
  • Serve dipped in your sauce of choice.

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