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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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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