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Gourmet Foods from Spain

How to Make Croquetas (Spanish Croquettes Recipe)

Spanish croquettes are the definition of tapas perfection

Croquetas are the holy grail of Spanish cuisine. They are a crowd pleaser since they come in a variety of different flavors. You can ask any Spanish person what their favorite food is and without a doubt they will respond with their grandmother’s croquetas de jamon (ham croquettes). Spanish croquettes are so popular that they even have their very own national day, January 16! So, what is all the hype around croquettes? Let’s see below how to make croquetas (Spanish Croquettes Recipe).

What are croquetas or spanish croquettes?

For starters, croquettes, or croquetas in Spanish, are a traditional dish made with leftovers from the previous day’s cocido or stew. True to the Mediterranean diet, Spanish cuisine usually includes left-overs into different dishes so as not to waste any food. Croquettes are practical and useful since they combine grandma’s leftover homemade stew with different ingredients to make an entirely different dish.

Some traditional examples are croquetas de pollo (spanish chicken croquettes), croquetas de pescado (fish croquettes), beef croquettes or ham croquettes. But you can also find seasonal croquettes that incorporate fresh products to maximize flavor. In autumn you may find mushroom croquettes. Winter is perfect for spinach and pine nuts or artichoke croquettes. Basically, croquettes can be filled with whatever ingredient you want as long as it has a crunchy outer layer and a creamy inside. These characteristics are essential to the essence of any croquette.

Croquettes in Spain are fried bechamel sauce fritters.
The “Croquetas” are one of the most typical Spanish tapas and a perfect dish to prepare for any occasion.

How to make croquetas or Spanish Croquettes ?

The croquetas or Spanish Croquettes Recipe is a very simple one. The main ingredients are bechamel, flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Basically, you dip the bechamel sauce and whatever filling you desire into the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Then you fry the oval shape croquettes in extra virgin olive oil until golden brown and crispy.

If you want to follow grandmother’s recipe then it is slightly different as you must include the left-over cocido. The meat retains the taste of the leftover stew while the vegetables, typically cabbage, carrots, and leeks, add flavor. The vegetables also have a higher concentration of the flavors from the stew. In this case, the bechamel acts as a creamy paste as well as binds the flavors of the stew together.

The bechamel a key point for making spectacular croquetas or spanish croquettes

Speaking of bechamel, the key to any amazing tasting croquette relies heavily on this creamy sauce. It is a cornerstone of a good croquette. But it must be prepared with care. Bechamel sauce must be smooth and not lumpy. In order to avoid unwanted lumps, we recommend that you take special care to sift the flour and stir constantly.

Another tricky aspect to croquettes is the form. It is hard to get the form right and that is why homemade croquettes are never the same shape. A wonderful tip passed down from family to family is the grandmother technique. This method uses two spoons to help create the perfect oblong shape. You could also use your hands to shape the croquettes. The important thing is to make sure the form is tight so it does not fall apart when frying.

Bechamel sauce is an essential ingredient in Spanish croquettes.
Bechamel is a creamy white sauce made with flour, milk and butter or oil and has a unique flavor.

Croquettes, just a tapa or a complete meal?

Croquetas or spanish croquettes are an ideal tapa as it is wonderful finger food. Plus, they can be considered a wild card. Meaning you don’t know what is inside until you take a bite! However, croquettes can also be a complete meal. The variations are limitless. Ranging from veggie croquettes to salmon croquettes to cheese croquettes (hello Cabrales cheese croquettes!). In recent years chefs have been very creative with their croquette fillings. Allowing for innovative ways to incorporate different tastes and accommodate dietary restrictions such as gluten free, dairy free, and vegans. Vegan croquettes can be as versatile and multifaceted as traditional ones. Instead of bechamel as the quintessential sauce you can substitute it for vegetable puree or plant-based milks. You can also find vegetarian croquettes if you don’t eat the traditional meat or fish croquettes. Now hopefully you see why spanish croquettes are really worth the hype!

We love to try any variation of croquettes for tapas or even meals as they are so filling. This delicious dish can be enjoyed in any traditional bar. You can even give it a try at home if you don’t know what to do with your left-over stew. You surely will not be disappointed with the new dish that you created!

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