Croquetas de pollo
Chicken Croquettes with Smoked Paprika Salt
90 g (3 1/4 oz) butter
90 g (3 1/4 oz /3/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tablespoon fino (dry) sherry
125 ml (4 fl oz /1/2 cup) home-made or low-salt chicken stock
1 fresh bay leaf
185 ml (6 fl oz /3/4 cup) milk
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) cream (whipping)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 leek, white part only, finely chopped
3 slices jamón, prosciutto or jambon, finely chopped
1/2 celery stalk, very finely diced
200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) chicken
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
50 g (1 3/4 oz /1/2 cup) seasoned dry fine breadcrumbs
55 g (2 oz /1/2 cup) ground almonds seasoned plain (all-purpose) flour, for coating
2 eggs, lightly beaten olive oil, for deep-frying
2 teaspoons sweet or smoked sweet paprika, mixed with 1 tablespoon salt
lemon wedges, to serve
To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and stir for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is dry and a little crumbly and smells like pastry cooking. Add the sherry and stir until absorbed. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the stock.
Add the bay leaf, gradually whisk in about half the milk, then return to the heat and whisk in the rest of the milk, then the cream. Cook, stirring, for 8–10 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and smooth and starts to pull away from the side of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the leek, jamón and celery and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened and lightly golden. Add the chicken, breaking up any lumps with the back of a spoon, and fry until the chicken changes colour and is just cooked through.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Remove the bay leaf from the béchamel sauce and add the sauce to the chicken along with the parsley. Mix well, season to taste, then cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, or until completely cold.
Divide the filling into 24 portions and roll into small croquette shapes 5–6 cm (2–2 1/2 inches) long. Combine the breadcrumbs and ground almonds in a small bowl. Lightly coat the croquettes in the flour, dip them in the beaten egg, allowing any excess to drip off, then coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. Sit the croquettes in a single layer on a tray and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until ready to cook.
Fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full of oil and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Deep-fry the croquettes in three batches for 2–3 minutes at a time, or until lightly golden. Drain well on crumpled paper towels and serve hot with the paprika salt and lemon wedges.
Variation: Instead of the chicken, try using minced (ground) pork, flaked tuna or finely chopped and sautéed garlic mushrooms, and add different herbs to taste. Also, instead of the lemon wedges, the croquettes can be served with a small bowl of sherry vinegar for dipping into.
Recipe text copyright of Jane Lawson - from Cocina Nueva - The New Spanish Kitchen.
Image by Steve Brown.