At a recent party, we served these tasty morsels and overheard one guest proclaiming they were “little bites of heaven.” That about sums it up. Served hot, the crispy exterior gives way to a velvety and savory interior that coats the entire mouth with pure deliciousness. Follow that bite with a sip of chilled Maschio Prosecco Brut: its slightly dry, yet fruity flavor balances out the creaminess and cleanses the palate for the next bite. And the next one after that…
Recommended wine pairing: Maschio Prosecco Brut
Yield: 60-75 pieces, depending on size
Recipe adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America
For the croquettes:
4 ounces unsalted butter (one stick/8 tablespoons)
½ cup finely minced onion
1½ cups all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
9 ounces finely chopped prosciutto or serrano ham
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
½ – 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
2 cups extra virgin olive oil, for frying
For the breading:
1 cup all-purpose flour (use more if needed)
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups Panko bread crumbs (use more if needed)
Three large, flat bowls
Make the batter: Heat butter in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly for 5 minutes to lightly brown and thoroughly cook the flour. Pour in the milk and stir/whisk continuously for about 2 minutes, until a very thick béchamel is formed.
Stir in the ham and nutmeg; taste, and adjust salt. Cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes or until the mixture is very thick: turn a spoonful of batter upside down, and when as much batter stays on the spoon as falls off, it’s probably thick enough.
If the batter is too wet or sticky to easily mold into a ball, cook a little longer; the batter will become even easier to roll once it’s cooled. Allow batter to cool to room temperature before forming the croquettes.
Form the croquettes: Place each breading ingredient in a separate bowl. To form a croquette, take a pinch or small spoonful of batter and roll into small ball: a little smaller than a ping pong ball. Set aside and continue forming all of the remaining croquettes. If the batter sticks to your hands, wet hands lightly with water.
Bread the croquettes: Next, roll each one in flour to coat; gently shake off excess and set aside until all are coated. Then dip each one into the beaten eggs, gently shaking off excess, and set aside until all of them are coated. Finally, add a few croquettes at a time to the bread crumbs; toss gently to coat, shake off excess. Set breaded croquettes aside until all are breaded.
Fry the croquettes: In a small, deep frying pan – or a small sauce pan – heat the olive oil to 375 F. Add a few croquettes at a time and completely submerge them in the oil, but be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry about a minute, gently turning as needed, until they turn a uniform golden color.
Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the croquettes; transfer to paper towels to drain.
TIP: Make sure to allow the oil to come back up to 375 F before adding the next batch or the croquettes may not brown nicely or firm up.
TIP: If making ahead, allow the croquettes to cool completely before freezing. To reheat, thaw completely and reheat in an oven or toaster oven (about 325 degrees F) until hot and crispy.
Diane Fluin is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer/editor, food blogger and wine lover with a passion for matching food with wine so that they bring out the best in each other. Diane provides step-by-step details of recipes to pair with her favorite Banfi wines, and when she isn’t cooking a meal or enjoying a glass of wine, she’s planning her next meal or thinking about wine.