How to make perfect croquettes
I know that today’s recipe may shock you a little because it is a very classic and traditional elaboration. But it’s also true that at home we eat everything and it’s never too much to learn how to make these preparations that seem very normal, but are very enjoyable. Because who doesn’t like croquettes? That’s why today I’ll let you how to make perfect croquettes.
It is true that making homemade croquettes has no mystery, but it is also true that if we do not follow the right steps, the results will not be as we hope. They can remain very runny, very dense, with a coat that is too thin or that explodes during cooking… But you will see that with a little patience and love, we can make wonderful croquettes at home.
Undoubtedly they are one of those elaborations that have accompanied us from our childhood, that whenever you go out to take a drink with friends or family and they serve you a tapa, if it is good, the tears are skipped… That’s why it’s one of those things you have to learn to do at home and try a thousand different types of fillings.
It is an elaboration that each one makes at home in a different way, but the base of all of them is a good béchamel made with flour, milk, butter and/or oil and salt. Its flavour can be enhanced by adding broth, which is the way I teach you to make them, as well as spices such as nutmeg, which is the most common of them all.
Depending on the filling that we decide to add, we will be able to use some spices or others, always trying that the flavors combine so that the result is good.
How to make a good béchamel?
It is obvious that many times working «by eye» can work, in fact our mothers and grandmothers cooked a lot this way. But if we want the result to be always the same and, most important of all, well we must follow a few quantities.
The correct ratios to obtain a perfect béchamel are the following:
- Use the same weight of flour as fat
- The ratio of liquid ingredients to dry ingredients is 9:1
- Be patient during the process, it is very long and should be cooked at a low medium temperature
Following these specific steps, you will have no problems when preparing the bechamel.
When I was a child, I always helped my mother shape croquettes. I really liked it and I loved doing it with her… In addition to eating some without frying while I was shaping them. Wow, they’re really good even like that!
The way to form them that my mother taught me, and that all of us have been taught, is by helping us with two spoons. Then they were battered with egg and breadcrumbs.
But, since I went to live alone, I formed them in another way. Once the batter had rested all night in the fridge, I put them into a pastry bag and piped them. That way you get them all the same thickness, the same shape, as well as being a very comfortable and clean way to work.
In fact it’s the way I teach you to make them, but you can make them the traditional way if you want.
- 120 g bread flour
- 60 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 60 g olive oil
- 150 g vegetable and ham broth (you can use the broth of your choice) at room temperature
- 900 g whole milk at room temperature
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and black pepper to taste
FOR THE FILLING:
- 2 large leeks or 150 g cured ham...
- 2-3 large eggs
- olive oil for frying
Cook the leeks.
- Remove the stems from the leek with a knife, without cutting too much, just the ends. Wash well with cold water to remove all the soil between the leaves.
- Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and cut each half in the same way again, thus dividing the leeks into 4 parts.
- Finely cut the leek and place it in a large colander. Wash again with plenty of cold water to remove any remaining dirt.
- Let it drain well.
- In a large frying pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on medium heat.
- Once it takes temperature, but without the oil getting to smoke, add the leek and sauté until it acquires a semi-transparent color, but still retains a crunchy texture. We don't want it to soften too much.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
Make béchamel for croquettes.
- Add the butter and oil in a large frying pan and place on low heat. Let it melt completely.
- Add the flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or a whisk.
- Once the flour has a soft golden color, pour in a little milk at the same time as you stir to prevent lumps from forming.
- We will alternate the addition of milk and broth. When we incorporate one of them, we must add a little quantity and stir constantly until the liquid has been completely absorbed. You will notice that the mixture will become denser.
- Once you have incorporated all the liquid, add the nutmeg, salt and ground black pepper. Stir well, try and rectify if necessary.
- Keep stirring without raising the heat during the process, until the mixture thickens and separates from the walls of the pan when stirring.
- It's a long process, it'll take about 50-60 minutes. Be patient.
- At this point, add the sautéed leek and mix well to distribute evenly.
- Transfer the mixture to a large plate and spread. This way it will cool more quickly.
- Cover with film by touching the surface, this way we avoid that the surface dries out and forms a crust.
- Once the croquette batter has cooled, refrigerate until the next day for firmness.
- Put the croquette batter in a piping bag. You can use a 2 cm in diameter tip or make a cut in it.
- Cover a tray with breadcrumbs, beat two eggs on a plate and prepare a large bowl to place the croquettes we are forming.
- Pipe the batter over the breadcrumbs.
- Using scissors, cut the croquettes to the desired size.
- Coat with breadcrumbs, then cover with beaten egg, drain the excess using a fork and coat again with breadcrumbs.
- Place in the plate and repeat the same process with the rest of the croquettes.
- Allow the croquettes to air dry for 20-30 minutes before frying.
- Fill a medium saucepan or a tall frying pan, enough for the croquettes to submerge, with olive oil.
- Place at medium heat and let it reach a temperature of 355ºF/175ºC. For it we will help ourselves of a thermometer of digital kitchen.
- Once it reaches that temperature, fry the croquettes in batches.
- Add 3-4 units, depending on the size of the saucepan, and move with the help of two forks while frying to promote a uniform golden brown.
- It will take a few seconds because we only have to brown and cook the outside, since the béchamel is already cooked.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to remove excess fat. Also we can place them on a strainer or wide sieve if we want it.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the croquettes.
- It is a long process and I advise you to do it with love and without haste. The result of good croquettes lies in a well elaborated bechamel sauce.
- In my case I use bread flour, but you can use flour of wheat if you wish it. I like the result obtained with this flour, but feel free to use plain flour with less strength. If you change the type of flour, keep in mind that the absorption capacity will vary.
- We must cook the flour, frying it with the fat, to avoid that the final result has a raw flour flavor. It will be enough to achieve a soft golden color.
- I like to add a part of broth in place of milk to enhance the final taste of the croquettes. Depending on what the filling is going to be, you can use one variety of broth or another.
- Once you have cooked the flour together with the fats (butter and oil) it is recommended to pour the liquid ingredients little by little and stirring at the same time. In this way you will avoid the formation of lumps because you encourage the batter to dissolve.
- Do NOT cook béchamel over high heat. The haste is not good for this step. The ideal thing is to cook them at medium low heat, so that the liquid evaporates little by little and allows us to integrate it in a simple way.
- If you get lumps, you can always use a blender to dissolve them, but if you do what I tell you will not happen.
- Be patient... Béchamel takes time, nothing more. It is not a laborious process, but it is a long one. The final consistency is important to obtain a good result, it should not be runny, but also not very dense and dry.
- I have left you a variant of leek croquettes, but you can make them with serrano ham, cod and onion, black pudding, prawns, chicken, sautéed vegetables, Cabrales cheese, mushrooms... There are endless possibilities and all of them fabulous.
- Croquettes must be shaped cold so that the batter can be easily manipulated.
- To coat the croquettes I cover with breadcrumbs, eggs and breadcrumbs. In this way we get a firmer coat. I like it better, but if you prefer you can cover them with egg and breadcrumbs alone.
- Do not exceed the temperature of the oil, croquettes will be burned and run the risk of exploding during frying.
- To prevent the croquettes from exploding during cooking, it is important that they are completely submerged and that the oil temperature is as specified.
- You can fry them in sunflower oil if you prefer.
- Croquettes can be frozen for 1 month. To do this, it is ideal to place them in an elongated recipient, cover them well and freeze them. If you do not have too much space, once they have frozen inside the container or tray, you can keep them in a zipper bag.
- To cook the frozen croquettes, you can do it directly from the freezer, although I prefer to leave them about 20-30 minutes at room temperature to help them to defrost. This way you won't find croquettes with a cold inside.
There is no doubt that croquettes are that kind of preparation that we all eat at least once a week. In fact they are usually perfect for dinner accompanied by some soup or cream. That's why today I've left you this post to know how to make perfect croquettes.
As I mentioned above, the most important thing is to make a good béchamel sauce. In this way we will obtain creamy and juicy croquettes, which is our main goal. Then we can season them with the ingredients we like best.
For my part, I have several "rarer" options that I want to try at home... Let's see how they welcome them. Because it is true that the preferred ones for my family are cod with candied onion, green garlic with prawns, blue cheese, chicken and serrano ham.
I wish you a wonderful start to the week!