Croquetas (croquettes) are one of the most popular tapas in Spanish restaurants. The kinds of fillings you can use are endless. From chicken to salmon and even Spam. It’s also a great dish to make in advance. You can make a whole batch and keep them in the freezer and just fry as you need them.
Most of the croquetas I’ve eaten in Manila have fillings that are too finely cut that I couldn’t even taste what meat was used. Also some are to rich without much flavor. This is my version of the croquetas and it addresses my two pet peeves.
One of the main ingredients for this dish is chicken breast. It’s important not to over cook the chicken making it hard and rubbery. The best method is to gently poach it. I will also be using the chicken stock for this recipe. I didn’t use all the chicken breast on this plate.
I used a food processor to cut up the chicken. You can also chop it by hand. This size is good and not any smaller. By chopping the chicken this size you can actually taste the chicken and feel the texture when eating the croquetas.
Spanish croquetas are made with a thick bechamel sauce and not mashed potatoes. Some may think it’s mashed potatoes probably because of the super fine cut of the filling which I detest. There are some croquetas that use mashed potatoes but it’s not the same as Spanish croquetas.
I used the oil from the chorizo and olive oil (not extra virgin) and sautéed chopped onions. Add the flour and let it cook until bubbles form. Add milk and stock. Whisk til thick and smooth.
Your mixture should not be too dry or too wet. Any extra sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just make more filling and use the sauce for a new batch of croquetas. Refrigerate this mixture until it hardens a bit.
At this point the croquetas are ready to be fried or you can freeze the them which I did a week before my dinner party. When the croquetas are frozen you can transfer them into a zip top bag and store in the freezer for months.
Poached Chicken Breast
2 – 3 chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
Place chicken breasts in a small pot. Arrange them in a single layer. Add enough water just to cover chicken breasts. Add a bay leaf.
Bring to a boil, then quickly reduce heat to low so that the water is barely at a simmer. Cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat completely and allow chicken to remain in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Keep cover on the pot.
Croquetas de Pollo y Chorizo (Chicken & Chorizo Croquettes)
makes about 30 pieces
4 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped (not too fine)
2 cups chorizo, chopped
1 onion minced
1/4 cup olive oil plus chorizo oil
2 cups milk (fresh or low fat)
1 cup chicken stock (canned or from poached chicken)
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper to taste
1. Chop cooked chicken breast into about 1/4″ pieces and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Chop chorizo and sauté in a pan without oil for a few minutes until the fat has rendered.
3. Add chorizo to chicken in the bowl.
1. Heat the oil and chorizo fat in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until soft but not brown.
2. Turn the heat down and gradually stir in the flour and cook gently, stirring regularly with a whisk until it loses its raw flavor. This should take about 8–10 minutes.
3. Gradually add milk and stock beating it in well with a whisk until you have a smooth paste. Cook for another 10 minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add some nutmeg and pepper. Taste the sauce if it needs salt.
Making the croquetas:
1. Add sauce to the chicken and chorizo mixture. Add just enough sauce so the mixture is not too wet. Let it cool then refrigerate until the mixture is firm enough to handle.
2. Take a spoonful of the cold chicken mixture and form into small cylinders using your hands.
3. Put the beaten egg, flour and breadcrumbs in individual containers. Dip the croquetas in flour then into the egg and finally roll in panko breadcrumbs.
4. Heat the olive oil (not extra virgin) in a large pan to 350F or 180C or until it begins to shimmer. Fry the croquetas in batches for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Reheat the oil after every batch so all the croquetas will be crisp. Transfer into a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil.
5. Serve hot with aioli (a quick version is to add chopped garlic to mayonnaise) or sweet chili sauce (not Spanish but yummy).
Spam (I’ve actually eaten Spam croquetas & they were good!)