In Spain, going out before dinner for drinks and tapas is a must. Young and old, single and married, everyone goes out, even moms pushing prams. It's their way to socialize with friends, relax and talk. Every bar has plates with small bites from Potato Tortilla to plain cured Ham, Pimientos de Padron to fried baby squid, I mean, you can dine on all the amazing tapas they make.
Croquetas de Jamón Serrano are typical from the Basque country but nowadays they are served everywhere in Spain. Their base is béchamel sauce to which you add cured ham, normally the drier parts you cut away before slicing the ham.
The Croquetas can be made with a lot of things, to use up leftovers - chicken, meat, fish, shrimp, even spinach, and you can eat them as an appetizer or as a main meal with a salad or sautéed vegetables. Make them the previous day so the béchamel has time to set - it will be easier to handle when shaping the croquetas.
I learned these croquetas with my Spanish friend Cristina who is a wonderful cook. Thank you Cristina!
—Maria Teresa Jorge
finely chopped onion
all purpose flour
cured ham (Jamon) very finely diced
Salt (not very much because of the salt of the ham
Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the cured ham (jamon) and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the flour, and cook for about three minutes until smooth. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low, and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 12 minutes so the sauce loses its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a Pyrex, smooth the top, cover with cling film and allow to cool. Put in the fridge overnight.
With 2 spoons, make balls of the mixture and put them on a tray.
Roll the croquetas in egg and then breadcrumbs. Put in the fridge until ready to fry.
Fry and serve warm or cold.
The croquetas can be frozen before frying - to fry, no need to thaw because they are quite small.