Have you ever heard of the word "Croquetas"?, well, if you`ve been to Spain probably you have. It´s a classic preparation children love, that requires a LOT of work, but for Spanish Grandmothers seems to be the easiest thing in the world to make. They are nice, little fried balls of bechamel sauce flavoured with whatever you want, most of the time Spanish ham, but it can be prepare with boiled eggs and chopped chicken, wild mushrooms and foie grass and nowadays I´ve seen some sweet ones..haven´t tried them yet.
Today we went out to Sokoa bar in center Vitoria, we know this place is famous because of their Croquetas, so we give them a try. Over the bar table is a dish with some of them so you can see what is what you´ll get. Huge, soft, big croqueta, that we enjoy with some "Mosto" (grape juice, served with an olive and lemon, like a little alcohol free martini) and a pice of bread bread. Please notice that this is eaten BEFORE lunch, as a Pintxo (or Tapa), it was so smooth and delicious, perfect to go shopping afterwards.
Recipe for Ham Croquetas (own creation)
1 lt whole milk (with half-half instead you´ll end up with smoother croquetas)
170gr all purpose flour
150gr Spanish Ham chopped (you can use chopped Turkey ham, cooked Chicken, mushrooms)
-pinch of nutmeg, black pepper and salt
2 cups bread crumbs
Heat milk taking care not to boil it. In the meantime prepare a roux, this is, melt butter in a large pot, add flour and let it cook until get`s together like a smooth dough, stirring often. Take it off the heat to add slowly the hot milk, whisking constantly, until you add it all. Change the whisk to a wooden spoon, get back on the heat and stir, stir and stir to prevent from sticking, after 5 minutes add ham and spices, season and cook stirring 10 min more, on low heat. Pour into a flat pan and cover with plastic wrap touching the batter so it won´t make a crust when cooled down. Let it rest in the fridge overnight. The next day lightly beat the eggs in one bowl, in another put the bread crumbs and make bite size balls with your hands (it may stick so use some oil in your hands to avoid this), pass the balls through the eggs and then onto the crumbs, and they are ready to fry, they must be submerge in the oil to become golden and perfect. They can`t be reheated so eat them at once. Good luck!