Jamon croquetes

Another lovely croqueta is the jamon croqueta…

Ok, I know that a lot of people don’t eat Ham ,a nd so you probably don’t understand why anyone would be interested in using ham as an ingredient, but to those of you who do eat ham, I can only say that bias or not, the Spanish Jamon is (to me) the best in the world. I would never trade a good jabugo for any other.

My mom’s recipe does not contain cheese, but I am a strong believer in the cheese and ham combination.

Cooking time: 40 minutes + overnight chilling + 15 minutes of finishing
This mix makes 24 pieces

Tips:

1. Use a good jamon (ham). It is important that it is dry cured for this particular recipe. A greasy one like bellota o jabugo will work nicely, but bear in mind that although the jamon should be of a certain quality, if the quality is too good, you are better off by eating it with a lovely piece of fresh baguette. So don’t get carried away.

2. The cheese will provide the salt to the dish and so depending on the type you should be mindful of the amount. I like using parmesan but recently used cheddar and as it melted became chewy and lovely.

3. Have your hand blender in hand to “save the day” with the béchamel (if necessary) and to make a smooth sauce.

4. Grind the nutmeg freshly each time

5. Use other than olive oil to fry. Apparently the molecules change as the temperature goes up. Honestly, I am not sure whether this is another urban myth but more subtle oils let you taste the more delicate flavours inside the croqueta better.

6. For those, like me, who cannot have deep fried food, you might want to cook them in less amount of oil turning them around to cook evenly. Always lay the cooked croquetas in kitchen paper to remove excess oil.

7. I have worked out that the ideal size of a dish size to cool down this quantity of mix could be the equivalent of an A3 paper sheet of around 3 cm height. It will allow you to run parallel lines and make regular pieces. This will help you when frying.

Ingredients:

1 pint of luke warm milk
175 gr of dry cured jamon cut in very small pieces. (mom uses the kitchen scissors)
2 spoonful of ground parmesan cheese
1 Medium size onion finely chopped
3 spoons of olive oil
5 spoonful of plain white flour Nutmeg

For the bread coating;
Good quality breadcrumbs (you will get an interesting result using the Japanese flaky ones)
2 small beaten eggs

Cooking Instructions:

A great part of the process is similar to the cod croquetas but the consistency of the mix and the quantities are different.

Fry the onion in slow heat until takes honey colour. Add the jamon and continue to fry. The fat in the jamon will melt and contribute to the flavour.

Add the flour and mix until there is an even oil coating on the mix. (You might need to add some more oil to achieve this, but it is an important step to avoid the flour to be undercook and bitter tasting)

When the mix is coated, add the milk slowly making sure that you dissolve the flour fully. If you are not able to do so, or run out of patience, my mom’s trick is very useful: Blend the mix and add it back to the pan to continue cooking.

Cook for 15 minutes.

Make sure that you regularly stir the mix with a wooden spoon as béchamel has a tendency to stick to the pan which you need to keep under control. This mix should be quite thick and you will know when it is cooked as you cut across with the wooden spoon and the mix leaves a trace/path behind.

Add the nutmeg to your taste. But taste first as some don’t like nutmeg in this recipe.

After another 20 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool down over night. Do so in a shallow but wide dish.

The next day, cut the mix in regular “cubist sausages” or cuboids which you can then shape with your hands as you first deep into the egg and then coat with the bread crumbs. Finally fry.

Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

Recipe by Rosa Maria Azcarate Ruiz and Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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