One of the most appreciated Tapas in Spain is the famous cured ham croquette made with bechamel. Spanish Ham Croquettes have a crunchy exterior with an ultra-creamy interior, impossible not to fall for those little bites.
The Spanish Ham Croquettes or Croquetas, as they say in Spain, are simple to do. It’s basically a thick Béchamel sauce mixed up with cured ham, codfish, cuttlefish, mushrooms, or anything you want. In Spain, the most beloved gastronomic tapa would probably be Iberic ham croquetas. A pure delight! However most of the time, they are made out of serrano ham, the equivalent of prosciutto ham. But indeed it can be replaced by whatever cured ham you prefer or leftovers you have. Usually served as a tapas, it could also make a great light lunch served with a green or couscous salad.
History of Croquetas
Back in the day, they would use the leftovers of meat from the pig’s leg (ham) and then make those croquetas. Although they were created in France in 1898, under the name “croquette,” the Spanish one has no potatoes in theirs. The Italians, English, Polish, and French have their versions of croquettes, most of the time containing potatoes, béchamel and meat. In Spain, croquetas are the first dish kids learn to do with their grandmother. Not to mention that every Spaniard’s mother does the best croqueta.
The Thickness of Bechamel
In Spain, they do it differently by simply using a thick béchamel, firm enough to form balls with your hands. There are many levels of creaminess, the softer the béchamel, the harder it is to create a nice round-formed croqueta. Although the smoother it will be on the inside, the creamier your bite will be.
This is a Tapa or Hors d’oeuvre, you can serve it with other lovely tapas. In the pictures, I served them with a simple lettuce and cherry tomato to prevent the greasy finger effect. But usually, they are served alone and eaten with the hands. Here are a few ideas of Tapas that would accompany these well:
- PAN CON TOMATE – PA AMB TOMAQUET
- FRIED EGGPLANT WITH HONEY
- CALAMARI IN ITS INK CROQUETAS
- CITRUS COUSCOUS SALAD
You can keep the croquettes for up to 3 days in the fridge after cooking them. Although, if you want to keep them for later use in the freezer, you’ll have to put them formed but uncooked. Lay them in a plastic bag on a cutting board in the freezer, with a little space in between. This way they won’t stick to each other. You can easily keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Also, you can fry them in oil directly but be careful not to add too many at a time.
Spanish Ham Croquettes
- 175 g cured ham (chopped finely)
- 1/2 onion (chopped finely)
- 75 g butter
- 75 g white flour
- 300 ml milk (cold)
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- white flour (to cover a plate)
- breadcrumbs (to cover a plate)
- 2 eggs
- oil for frying (fill a small pot or in the fritter)
- In a pan soften the onion in the butter, until really soft, at medium-low heat.
- Add the flour and cook until it’s smells nutty (1-2 minutes) medium-high heat.
- Add the cold milk and whisk until thickens.
- Add the seasonings; ham, nutmeg, salt and pepper, mix.
- Let cool 15 minutes, before having the béchamel to the fridge.
- Let set in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours (gets thicker).
- When the mixture is cold and firm, make small balls with them.
- Bring the frying oil to minimum of 180°C (350F°) up to 200°C (400F°) (if frozen).
- Mix up the eggs in a bowl
- Dip, gently, each ball in the following order; first into flour, then eggs and finish with the breadcrumbs.
- When the oil is hot enough, add the croquettes 2 or 3 maximum at the time (if it’s a small amount of oil).
- Deep Fry them for about 4 minutes, until light brown.
- Let sit on the paper towel to cool off before serving.