This recipe is based off of an Edward Schneider post for the New York Times, a random tip of a 2 to 1 ratio of potatoes to bechemal, and my own nostalgia.
Makes about 30 1″ croquettes
1 pound of potatoes
1 shallot, minced finely
5 cloves of garlic, pressed
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup milk (I used 2%, I’m sure whole milk would be better)
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg
3/4 cup finely diced ham steak
1/2 cup Manchego cheese
dredging assembly line: 1/2 cup flour, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15 minutes, until just tender.
2. To make the bechemal, melt the butter in a small saucepan.
3. Add minced shallot and garlic. Sweat the shallot and garlic until they’re translucent, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the flour and mix with a small wire whisk to create a roux. Cook the roux, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.
5. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and chicken broth. Slowly add the milk/broth mixture to the roux, about 1/4 cup at a time. Mix thoroughly each time you add in liquid. Cook at a simmer for about 10 minutes, stir occasionally and make sure the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot or start to boil. The sauce will thicken considerably.
6. Unpeel the potatoes and place in a food processor. My potatoes came out very sticky I think because of their starchiness. I also added a smidgen of milk to help them puree.
7. In a medium sized bowl, mix the bechemel, it will be very think by now, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and pureed potatoes.
8. Fold in the ham and Manchego.
9. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge until cool. We placed it overnight, then formed the croquettas the next afternoon.
10. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
11. Form the croquettes by grabbing about 1/4 cup amount in your hands, then roll it into a ball shape. They should hold. Form ALL croquettes before dredging anything. Place them on the baking sheet.
12. Prepare a dredging assembly lines by placing 3 medium plates next to each other. In the first one place the flour, the second the eggs, then third the breadcrumbs.
13. Heat a solid 2 inches of oil (I used olive oil, but sunflower or another neutral would be good too) between 325 and 350. I don’t have an oil temperature gauge, so my way of seeing if the oil is hot enough is by putting a tiny bite in and seeing if it fries up.
14. Grab a croquette, roll in the flour until lightly coated. Place in the egg until lightly coated, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Place back on the wax paper until you’ve finished coating all the croquettes.
15. Fry the croquettes in batches until golden brown all around. Serve immediately.
It is not recommended that you keep them heated in a low oven. I tried this and my croquettes that came out of the fry pan plump and shapely, came out of the oven looking like popped balloons. Keep their perky shape, it’s part of what makes them irresistible.