A quintessential element of the tapas party,
the jamon croquette is a delicately textured but powerfully flavoured nugget of
pure delight and surprisingly very accessible and easy to recreate at home. Traditionally
using Spanish ham of course though feel free to step outside of the conventional
to try something new.
I started off this process by creating melt
in the mouth tender ham hocks in the slow cooker. Take 2 ham hocks, a couple of
onions, carrots and celery sticks roughly chopped, a bay leaf, some thyme and a
few parsley stalks. Top with water or if you wish to add to the seduction some
chicken stock and cook on low for 8 hours or overnight. The resulting meat will
fall off the bone with loving ease and you are now presented with the joyful
culinary pleasure of salty, umami rich cured ham and lashings of deeply
flavoured luscious stock for a host of kitchen delights. This is the intense
joy of cooking at home, where the mild efforts of one action supplies you with
a bonus of an intensely layered liquid that then proceeds to fund the
foundations of a delicious soup, creamy risotto or the backbone of a decedent sauce.
There are pros and cons of the crockpot but when it works it truly works. For
this recipe you can off course be lazy, though I would argue that there is no
lazier kitchen action than the slow cooker, and instead opt for a shop bought
cured ham like serrano of which there is zero shame.
While there may seem like a multitude of
steps and processes, I can try to allay your fears by explaining that you are
essentially making a very thick Béchamel with ham, chilling that mixture and
then breadcrumbing. So if all you’ve ever done is chill something in the fridge
you’re already ahead of the posse in your technical game.
Makes 16 large croquetas
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion or shallot finely
100g torn ham hock or other ham
such as Serrano finely diced
60g plain white flour
300ml full fat milk
100ml ham hock stock (if
available) or chicken stock
25-40g manchego or other hard
cheese like comte, gruyere etc. finely grated
2 eggs beaten, dash of milk
100g panko breadcrumbs or other
Oil for frying
Heat the milk and the ham stock
together until warm and set aside
Heat the oil and butter in a
pan over a medium low heat and add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes until
the onion is soft. Add the ham and stir through for a minute before adding the
flour. Cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly for about 3 mins until the
flour is cooked. Finally add the milk and stock, stirring vigorously to combine
before slowly cooking over a medium low heat for approximately 8-10 minutes until
the mixture is fully thickened.
Line a plastic container with
clingfilm and add the mixture before smoothing out and covering with more
clingfilm to keep it fresh. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours
or it can also be made a day in advance.
When ready to cook remove the
mixture from the fridge. Prepare 3 containers, one with the flour, one with the
beaten eggs and one with the breadcrumbs. Lightly dust clean hands with flour,
take a dessert spoon of mixture and shape into the croquette. You should have
about sixteen croquettes.
Place the shaped croquette
first into the flour, dusting off any excess, then dip into the egg wash before
placing into the breadcrumbs, moving them about the coat completely. Place on a
clean plate and back into the fridge for 10 minutes to firm and chill while
heating the oil.
When ready to cook, preheat a
deep fryer to 180C, and fry the croquettes in batches for about 3-4 minutes until
golden. Serve straightaway and enjoy on their own or with a garlic aioli or Romesco