Croquetas de Jamon y Pollo (ham and chicken croquettes) are a delicious Spanish tapa dish found in most bars in Spain. And yes, every bar you visit will claim they have the best croquetas in town! Loosely translated the word croqueta has the element of crunch in it (from the French croquer), and that is exactly what they will do in your mouth when you take that first bite.
According to food historians, croquetas were first served in France where they were prepared by the famous chef Antonin Careme(1784-1833) for a special banquet. His croquettes were made of potato, and did not contain the bechamel center of the Spanish croqueta. Somewhere along the line, the croqueta traveled to Spain, evolved and became what it is today.
Croquetas are made with a variety of ingredients, including ham, chicken, mushrooms, cheese or fish. You can use any leftover ingredients, or those you would normally have in your refrigerator. By the way Manchego works great.They are time consuming to make; however, one redeeming factor is that you can do the all labor intensive preparation ahead of time and leave the frying for last minute. Yes, the mixture will also keep well overnight. You can even fry them ahead of time and then freeze. When you are ready to eat, just pull them out and bake!
What I find most intriguing about croquetas is that creamy center which is made possible by the bechamel sauce used to bind the ingredients together. Bechamel you say? Wait a minute! Isn’t that French? Mais oui!! Stranger things have happened, right? One thing to note is that the bechamel you use in making croquetas will have a thicker consistency than that which is used as a sauce to serve over food. A thicker sauce ( i.e. more flour added) will help to properly bind all the ingredients together.
Croquettes are a marvelous blend of textures: crunchy and creamy! What can be better than that?
If you want to bring the flavors of Spain to your home I have several other great recipes to share with you.
Prueba de cerdo is a classic tapas dish of thinly sliced marinated pork with Spanish paprika that is grilled fast and is so easy to make.
Spanish chorizo in red wine sauce is a great dish to pair with some Tempranillo or Rioja.
Shrimp with tomato and onions is a simple tapas dish that pairs well with a nice Spanish white Verdejo that is similar to Pino Grigio.
Empanadas are savory turnovers filled with meat or cheese. Most are fried but I like to cheat and bake mine using pre-made pie crust. I think this is a slightly healthier option than frying, and it’s so easy.
Make some croquetas de jamon y pollo for your next party!
Croquetas de Jamon y Pollo
A classic and authentic Spanish tapas dish. Ham and chicken croquettes are delicious! These tasty little morsels are packed with flavor and have a crunchy outside and creamy middle. They take a little time but they are oh so worth the effort.
- 1 lb chicken breast boneless, skinless
- 1/2 cup ham smoked, minced
- 3-4 sprigs of parsley chopped
- 1 onion small, cut into slices
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 6-8 peppercorns
- 2-3 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Panko breadcrumbs for coating.
Oil for frying.
In a saucepan poach chicken breast in wine, parsley, peppercorns, thyme, onion, salt and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. broth.
- Remove chicken from pan, set aside to cool. Remove meat from bone and return bones to
Simmer broth for an additional 20 minutes. Strain and set aside 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Chop chicken and ham as finely as possible. I recommend using a food processor for this. Transfer to a large bowl.
For the sauce:
In a separate pan, slowly melt the butter and add the olive oil. Using a whisk slowly stir in the flour alternating with the milk, and the broth.
Stir in the nutmeg. Continue to whisk until the mixture is thick.
Pour the sauce mixture into the bowl and stir to thoroughly combine. NOTE: for quick cooling, you can spread the sauce on a baking dish. The thin layer will help speed up the cooling process.
Place mixture in the refrigerator to cool completely. This will take about 3 hours.
Prepare two separate shallow dishes, one with egg mixture, and the other with breadcrumbs.
To make the croquettes:
Make sure your hands are well floured to prevent stickiness. You can also use a small cookie scoop to make the process go a lot quicker. The ideal size for the croquettes is about 1".
Dip croquettes in egg/water mixture and then roll in breadcrumbs. Deep fry in very hot oil. The temperature of the oil should be around 390F.
After shaping balls place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Deep fry in very hot oil. The temperature of the oil should be around 390F.
Drain on paper towel. Serve hot.
After they are cooked, croquettes can be frozen and later reheated in the oven for 12 minutes at 350F.
Adapted from my all time favorite book on Spanish cooking: Penelope Casas’ “Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain”.