Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas with Smoked Pimentón Aioli

By • December 8, 2011 • 77 Comments

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Author Notes: My husband and I celebrated our anniversary last year by taking a wonderful trip to Spain. Although we tried a countless number of tapas, our favorite was the croquetas- Spanish croquettes filled with different ingredients. My croquetas use classic Spanish ingredients like salty Serrano ham and nutty Manchego cheese. And to serve with them, I make an aioli using Pimenton de La Vera, a delicious sweet smoked paprika. You may want to make extra croquetas because your guests will gobble them up!Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Food52 Review: We always love hors d'oeuvres that can be made ahead and fried up quickly for a party, and these addictive Spanish croquetas fit the bill. The cheesy, ham-flecked dough is a cross between a choux (without the egg) and a floury bechamel. Once it cools and thickens up, you can put little (or big) helpers on ball-rolling duty. The crust fries up shaggy and golden from the panko, and the paprika aioli is pretty in pink, with an assertive garlic punch. - A&M The Editors

Makes 20-22

Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Serrano ham (can substitute prosciutto), about 1.8 oz
  • 1/3 cup grated Manchego cheese, about 1.8 oz
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Smoked Pimenton Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika such as Pimentón de La Vera
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes while whisking frequently. Gradually add the milk while whisking and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be smooth. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the ham, cheese and nutmeg. Cook another 1-2 minutes while stirring- the mixture will pull away from the sides of the pan. Taste the mixture and add salt if desired- the ham and cheese are salty so you probably won’t need to add any additional salt.
  2. Transfer the mixture to an 8x8-inch baking tray and spread it out so that it is even. Let the mixture cool, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to cook the croquetas, lightly beat the eggs in a shallow dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and ½ teaspoon salt in another dish. Scoop up tablespoons of the cooled filling and form them into balls. Dip each ball into the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Place the completed croquetas on a wire rack or baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. The croquetas must be chilled before frying otherwise they may fall apart in the oil.
  4. Meanwhile, make the aioli by pureeing the mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and smoked pimentón in a blender or mini food processor. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large stockpot to reach a depth of 1 inch and heat over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry the croquetas in the oil, turning them on all sides, until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with the smoked pimentón aioli.
Jump to Comments (77)

Comments (77) Questions (5)

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Baking

8 months ago Amber

Divine! I have another recipe for Serrano and Manchengo croquetas from Jose Garces but his recipe is so much more complicated and intimidating than this. Thank you for making my life easier!

Stringio

8 months ago Sunny Aalami

This recipe is amazing! Serive with lime.

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11 months ago Miguel Rossello

Espectacular... You should also try sobrasada (sausage from Mallorca) with Mahones cheese croquetas... With tomato jam...

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11 months ago The Tasty Word

Oh, I second the idea of using sobrasada. My mother's family is from Mallorca, but we live in Panama, and the most anticipated treats from when someone in the family travels there is when they bring back sobrasada and ensaimada.

Stringio

12 months ago Joseph Hamby

Another wonderful recipe, Doc...definitely on-point!

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12 months ago Amy

I wanted to love these, but just didn't :( I made them on Christmas morning to take to an afternoon family get together, but I fried up a couple, tried one for the first time, and had to leave them behind. The texture was very unappetizing, and the flavor just didn't do it for me. Didn't try the sauce...

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about 1 year ago Irma Davidson

Thank you very much Sonali. I just made them last night as an appetizer for my 7 year old granddaughter and she loved them. She asked me to make them and take them warm for her school lunch next Wednesday and Christmas appetizers.

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about 1 year ago procrastibaker

These are AMAZING. I made them as an appetizer for Thanksgiving, and it's all we can do not to eat all of them before we head to our official dinner. Having the oil at 350F helps avoid the oozing, although I still had to carefully watch them. A few of them split, but they stayed together enough to transport. Delicious. I'll certainly be making these again.

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about 1 year ago keg72

Great recipe! For those who've had the oozing problem, I might know the issue. Make sure your oil is hot enough. I had mine down around 325 because I like the look of the blonder color. But, they all oozed. When I got the oil up to 350, using the same batch of formed croquetas, no oozing. (And I also didn't have the oozing problem the first time I made these at 350.) Also, I just wanted to note that I froze fully cooked croquetas and then baked them, from frozen, at 350 for 15-20 minutes, and they were as good as they were when fresh. Finally, this time I added a few TBS of minced onion, and it really increased the flavorfulness. Hope that helps someone!

Stringio

almost 2 years ago Mel Mercedes

Such a great recipe! I lived in Southern Spain for half a year and ordered croquetas everywhere I went...at least 3 times a week! These are just as good if not better than most I tried. Thanks for sharing :)

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almost 2 years ago sansan123

Thank You. Made the mistake of sending my darling hub to the supermarche wihout adult supervision. e returned with a whopping big serrano ham and I have been trying to find things to do with it. This looks perfect,though I will substitute the machengo as he doesn't like it.

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almost 2 years ago Nela

I made these over the Holidays and they were delicious. Please keep in mind that once you make the bechamel you must refrigerate in a baking pan for at least 2 hours prior to shaping the croquetas and refrigerate again for another 30 minutes before you can finish them. So I would recomend to start them a day ahead so all you have to is fry them and serve just before you are going to serve them. They are delicious and very filling. Just like the ones in Spain.

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almost 2 years ago Urbain Dubois

Thanks so much for this recipe and the step by step images for preparation. I have not tried it but I am certain these are addictive!

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almost 2 years ago Urbain Dubois

What is the difference between Spanish and Hungarian paprika? I just purchased a large, beautifully decorated can of hot Hungarian paprika. As infrequently as I use paprika it is way too much but couldn't resist.

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almost 2 years ago ELISER

if you need any of this ingredients, you can buy here;
Spanish Food Online; www.ladespensashop.com

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almost 2 years ago htan

I made these the other day for my baby shower. Unfortunately they also exploded like another reviewer said (In the question portion). I even measured/weighed out the cheese because it was thought that too much cheese would make that happen. Disappointed in the results, I couldn't even serve any of them, 2/3 of them had the cheese ooze out into my oil. I wonder what the problem was?

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almost 2 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

I'm sorry to hear that! I think the most common reason for them exploding would be that they're not chilled enough. Did you refrigerate them for several hours to firm up the mixture before frying? Also, if you were frying them for too long or if the oil was too hot, that could have caused the problem. Finally, perhaps they weren't coated with enough breadcrumbs. Sometimes I crush the panko very finely to ensure an even crust.

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about 2 years ago Frankiefurt

Hi, I'm from Spain and, although this ones are great and are one of my favourites, here we have croquetas of almost everything. You can change the ham for boiled chicken, or for boiled codfish, or for boiled Spinachs or for boiled Shrimps. And we don't usually eat them with ali-oli. Ali-oli goes great with Fideuá, cuttlefish, Paella, etc. And the real Ali-Oli is just garlic and olive oil, but it's really difficult to make it. It requires a great patience and technique. We also usually do it with mayonnaise. ¡Hasta luego!

Stringio

about 2 years ago blanka.n

I have been dying to make these,

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about 2 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks, I hope you like them!

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over 2 years ago DIANELLY

this looks delocius and I will try to do it today. Can I change the sweet paprika for hot paprika? is so, how much should I put? thank you

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about 2 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Yes, you can substitute sweet paprika. I would start with the same amount and then adjust to taste.

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almost 3 years ago LE BEC FIN

hi sonali,want to thank you for this terrific recipe.You would have had me at Crunchy, but Gooey Cheesy and I was all yours! I made them last night for dinner for the 2 of us, to accompany chowbella's terrific recipe for Citrus Chimmichuri Pork Roast , whch i adapted for turkey .I had to MAKE myself eat my salad!

I did make a few changes. I added 1/8 cup grated/ground Parm , used 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (double yours) and , because i don't care for serrano, used Jone's Canadian bacon, my fav ham component.The parm made a huge difference and really brought together all the flavors.

I learned to pull them from the oil a little bit before I would have (because otherwise, they explode and lose their filling!)
I am new to 52 and was thrilled to have one of my citrus recipes chosen as a CP. thanks so much again and congrats on your well deserved win.

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almost 3 years ago rheg18

I made these for new years eve. I used prosciutto since I couldn't find serrano ham.People keep asking me for the recipe because they enjoyed it so much. Thank you for sharing! This recipe is a keeper!

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almost 3 years ago Laurie in Petaluma

I made these yesterday for a party and they are crunchy on the outside and full of creamy goodness on the inside. I liked that I could have them all ready to fry before my guests arrived. These will definitely be made again. Thanks so much for the fabulous recipe!

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks so much for trying the recipe- I'm so happy you liked them!

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almost 3 years ago Jenifer Mangione Vogt

These look amazing. I'm a big fan of finger food/appetizers. I'd rather eat a few different ones, than a dinner entree at times. So I'm always on the lookout for something tasty and original. I'll probably replace the Serrano with Prosciutto, but I can't wait to try this. Thanks!

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thank you- I love finger foods too! Yes, Prosciutto would be a good substitute for the Serrano ham. Let me know how it goes if you try the recipe!

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almost 3 years ago Cecilia Cuban espresso

I made these for a new years eve party and what a huge success! I fried them up and when we arrived a the party warmed them up on a 350 oven for 15 minutes. I made them with prosciuto and can only imagine how uh better they would be with Serrano ham.

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks for your comment- I'm happy that they were still tasty after reheating in the oven!

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almost 3 years ago niki5959

I have a question, did you use aged Manchego cheese or soft Manchego cheese? Thanks! Looking forward to making these for New Year's Eve!

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

I used aged Manchego because that's what we had in Spain. Let me know how it goes if you make it and Happy New Year!

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almost 3 years ago arahsay

This looks fantastic! I do have a question though. I'm going to a friends for New Years and wanted to take this. Could I cook them before I leave for her house? I tend to make a mess, and don't want to walk in and start making a mess, but we're good friends so I'm sure she would forgive me! :)

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almost 3 years ago arahsay

This looks fantastic! I do have a question though. I'm going to a friends for New Years and wanted to take this. Could I cook them before I leave for her house? I tend to make a mess, and don't want to walk in and start making a mess, but we're good friends so I'm sure she would forgive me! :)

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

You could probably do that but they wouldn't be as crispy. Maybe if you reheat them at a high temperature in the oven, they would crisp up. When I tested them, I reheated a few in the microwave later- they were still tasty but lacked the crunch of the original batch straight out of the oil. Have a happy new year!

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almost 3 years ago OlgaMarie

These are VERY VERY good, they freeze perfectly!!!!

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

I've never tried to freeze these before- thanks for giving me the idea! It would be great to freeze a large batch and then fry them up at the last minute.

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almost 3 years ago stitchhappy

It seems you have created a hit here. I'm very excited to try these in my own kitchen... New Years eve being right around the corner we like to celebrate early and in bed early... LOL.. This recipe makes my mouth water just reading it. Thanks for keeping it simple enough so even I can make it. This is my first visit here but it won't be my last...

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almost 3 years ago stitchhappy

It seems you have created a hit here. I'm very excited to try these in my own kitchen... New Years eve being right around the corner we like to celebrate early and in bed early... LOL.. This recipe makes my mouth water just reading it. Thanks for keeping it simple enough so even I can make it. This is my first visit here but it won't be my last...

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thank you- so glad that I was a part of your first visit to food52! Celebrating New Year's Eve at home sounds great to me- let me know how it goes if you try the recipe!

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almost 3 years ago Deanne

I made these for Christmas Eve tapas. They were incredible. They looked exactly like the picture and tasted fantastic. I used prosciutto, and I might use a tiny bit more next time. My husband said he was willing to divorce me and marry one of these "wonderful ham balls." Thank you for this delicious recipe.

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

I'm so excited that you made these for your party and that they were a success- thanks so much! Yes, I think that these are definitely a crowd pleaser- after all, who doesn't love fried ham balls?! When I tested this recipe, my husband and I polished off the whole batch! :)

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almost 3 years ago loubaby

These sound wonderful; definitely going to try. I have made Tyler Florence's Serrano and Manchego Croquettes and they are good--he uses mashed potato instead of the sauce for binding and serves with a Romesco Sauce. So will definitely try these and compare...Thanks! and congratulations.

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almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks! I've seen croquettes made with mashed potatoes but never tried that method before. I do love Romesco sauce- yum! Let me know how it goes if you try the recipe!

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about 3 years ago creamtea

Congratulations, Sonali. I may take your advice to Panfusine and try different flavoring additions.

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thank you! Let me know how it goes if you try it!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations on your win, Sonali! I can't wait to try these. We've been on the plane all day - just arrived in Newark, happy to spend the holidays in NYC. Happy Holidays!!

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks, gingerroot! I will be trying your dish as well- it sounds delicious and is visually stunning! Glad to hear that your long flight is over. Have a great time in NYC and Happy Holidays!

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about 3 years ago Panfusine

Congratulations on the win Sonali (won't be able to try these unfortunately., since I'm vegetarian).
Just went over to your blog.. LOVE it! Do you have a facebook food page as well?

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks, Panfusine! I love what you wrote on your food52 profile! And your blog is great- I just joined. I am relatively new to the blogging world so I don't have a Facebook page for The Foodie Physician yet- just my own personal account. I guess I should set one up as well as a twitter account! Regarding this recipe, if you want to try it you can make it and just leave out the ham. I've made vegetarian versions often- you can even put in mushrooms, spinach or whatever vegetables you like.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations Sonali, can't wait to try these!

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks, sdebrango! Let me know how it goes if you try the recipe. Happy Holidays!

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about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats, Sonali! Belated Happy Birthday and Happy Holidays!

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks mrslarkin! I'm honored that my dish won, especially against such a terrific recipe by gingerroot. Have a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

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about 3 years ago susan go

YUM! I can't wait to try these......

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Let me know how it goes if you try it!

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about 3 years ago Panfusine

Congratulations on the finalist pick Sonali & a very happy birthday!

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks, Panfusine!

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about 3 years ago lapadia

Thanks for sharing your delicious recipe, Sonali and Happy Birthday to you!

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks, lapadia! It was a great birthday surprise!

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks so much for all of the kind comments! I was so excited and honored to see that my recipe had been chosen as a finalist- and on my birthday no less! What a great birthday present!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Wow! That is a great birthday present. Happy birthday!! Honored and humbled to be a finalist with you.

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about 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

I feel the same way! :)

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Congrats Sonali! These look and sound amazing, I know I'd be parked right next to these at a party.

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about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

congrats on being named a finalist! Spain is lovely, wishing you many more anniversary trips (and inspired recipes for us!)

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about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congratulations sonali! These look absolutely addictive!

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about 3 years ago Cookie16

Anything with Manchego is a win for me. Great idea and good luck!

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about 3 years ago Cookie16

Anything with Manchego is a win for me. Great idea and good luck!

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about 3 years ago TiggyBee

These look great! Congrats!

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about 3 years ago Midge

Delicious! Congrats Sonali!

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about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

congrats Sonali! These sound really yummy.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

These sound just wonderful, congratulations on being a finalist!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Congrats Sonali -- these look amazing!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congratulations! These really sound delicious - love the Spanish flavors.

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about 3 years ago Spanishfoodie

Ruben Raposo Buy Authentic SERRANO HAM AND PIMENTON AT THE BEST PRICES AT http://www.rapososgourmet... or through their Amazon Store with 99% customer satisfaction! THE BEST OF SPAIN FOR LESS!!

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about 3 years ago arielleclementine

what a great idea! love it!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I would love to gobble these up!