Croquetas de jamón or cured ham croquettes are fritters made with béchamel sauce seasoned with chopped ingredients that are then coated in egg, breadcrumbs and deep-fried. They’re normally oval in shape although you can find them round too.
It is a typical Spanish dish to be found in any region of Spain. As it happens with Spanish omelette, there are as many croquette formulas as homes in Spain; every family has its own way to make them.
Croquettes are based on a thick, solid, béchamel sauce, responsible for making our croquettes a success or a disaster. The béchamel is made with just a few ingredients: oil and/or butter, flour, milk and salt. Homemade broth (as shown below) and seasonings, being nutmeg the most usual, can be added to enhance the flavor.
The ratios of the ingredients are important for a good result. We always make the béchamel in the following way:
- Use the same weight of fat and flour
- The ratio of liquid ingredients to dry ingredients is 9:1
- Be very patient during the process because the cooking process of the béchamel is long and at medium low heat.
If you closely follow our instructions you will always succeed.
The croquettes can be seasoned with a lot of ingredients from cod, mushrooms, cheese, black pudding with apple, chicken, prawns… in our case we will make one of the most traditional. Cured ham croquettes.
- 4,2oz (120 g) bread flour
- 2oz (60 g) unsalted butter
- 2oz (60 g) olive oil
- 5,3oz (150 g) ham and vegetable homemade broth
- 2 pounds (900 g) whole milk
- 5,3oz (150 g) Serrano ham
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt to taste
- 2 large eggs for coating
- Breadcrumbs for coating
- Olive oil
- Put the oil and butter in a frying pan over low heat and melt completely.
- Add the flour and stir-fry constantly stirring with a wooden spoon or whisk.
- When the flour has taken on a soft golden color, pour the milk little by little and stir at the same time to prevent lumps from forming.
- Alternate the addition of milk and broth as the batter absorbs the previous one and grows thicker.
- Add the nutmeg and salt. Keep stirring constantly until the batter becomes thicker and separates from the sides of the pan. The whole making will take at least 50 minutes.
- Add the Serrano ham cut into small pieces and mix to distribute evenly.
- Transfer the mixture to a plate or dish, this way the béchamel will cool faster.
- Cover the batter with film by touching the surface to prevent it from drying and developing a skin.
- Once it has cooled down completely, store it in the refrigerator until the next day for it to firm up.
- Shape the croquettes with a piping bag and a wide round tip (around 2 cm/3/4") or by using two spoons.
- Fill a large bowl or dish with breadcrumbs and another dish with the beaten egg; place them side by side.
- Make croquette-size portions with the mix and coat them first in the breadcrumbs.
- Then cover the croquettes in the beaten egg and again in the breadcrumbs.
- Let them dry for a while at room temperature and uncovered to allow the exterior to harden.
- Heat a frying pan with enough oil to deep-fry the croquettes.
- Once the oil reaches 340ºF/175º, fry the croquettes in batches. Turn them upside down from time to time to help them to brown evenly.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to remove excess fat.
Tips for the most amazing croquetas de jamón:
- All-purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour, it is a matter of personal taste. We think that the result is better with the latter.
- The flour must be thoroughly fried in the fat to get rid of the flour raw flavor. Taking it to a soft golden brown color is enough.
- Depending on the variety and filling of the croquettes, part of the milk can be subtituted for a broth made with chicken, ham or vegetables. It enhances the flavor.
- After frying the flour, we recommend to pour the liquid ingredients little by little, always stirring at the same time, to help the flour paste to disintegrate and avoid lumps.
- Do not cook the béchamel sauce over a high heat, it is better to do it in medium low heat so that the liquid evaporates little by little and allows us to integrate it more easily.
- If any lumps form you can always use a blender to mix them.
- Be very patient. Béchamel is slow to make because a dense consistency needs to be achieved, so that the batter pulls away from the walls of the frying pan. Do not stop ccoking too soon, otherwise the béchamel will be too runny and difficult to handle.
- The croquettes must always be formed cold for the batter to be easily handled.
- The coating can be breadcrumbs-egg-breadcrumbs or just egg-breadcrumbs. This is completely to your liking, though the former makes for a slightly firmer coating that tends to be easier to fry.
- Do not exceed the specified oil temperature for frying. Think that these are already cooked, the only thing we must do is to brown the exterior to achieve a crunchy texture.
- Croquetas freeze very well after coating and before frying, in a zip bag for 1 month. They can be fried frozen.
Without a doubt, a good tapa of croquetas de jamón or cured ham croquettes with a cold beer is what you want to finish the day. Right? We are already preparing our own! We expect to see your pictures very soon.