I will never forget the first time I tried my Spanish grandmother’s croquettes. They were cocido Madrileño flavour, which is a Madrid style stew with different meats, vegetables and chickpeas, and my grandmother would make croquettes with the leftovers of the leftovers. Her croquettes were utterly delicious, and still to this day, the bestest I have ever tried.
I was a teenager then, so at that moment it never crossed my mind that I could ever make croquettes myself. Then through the years I had always assumed that croquette making would be a way too intricate a masterpiece for me to do. I was convinced there was no way I could craft croquettes into their cylindrical shapes and then not have them auto-convert into irregular star shapes during the frying. These are completely absurd fears I know.
By the time it finally dawned on me that perhaps I too could make croquettes, I asked my now 97 year old grandmother for her recipe. Alas she said she can’t remember how to make them. Thus I’ll have to embark on my own croquette making legacy on my own,… and with the help of my food blogging friends. I’ve decided I will slowly experiment and make different flavoured croquettes until I master my own repertoire. Then maybe one day I too will make cocido Madrileño and make cocido Madrileño croquettes with the leftovers of the leftovers.
Meanwhile, these Serrano ham and Manchego cheese croquettes were my first attempt. The recipe was inspired by this one from Eating With Your Hands. Good news: the croquettes were way easier to make than I ever imagined. Double good news: they were incredibly good!
Before the recipe: my alioli making learning process
Homemade alioli –basically mayonnaise with garlic- is one of those Spanish things that gives way to a countless amount of legends. If you listen to all the tales you would think that: alioli takes hours and hours of endless manual stirring, you have to always stir in the same direction, same speed, the exact correct speed, if anybody dares look over your shoulder into your alioli it will separate and be ruined forever, and so on.
I decided that all these myths came from a time before electric mixers existed. If you cheat it with an electric mixer, alioli should turn out fine.
So I started looking at YouTube alioli making tutorials. They all said the same thing basically, same ingredients, same simple process. Then I came across a funny tutorial by a boy who must have been about 13 years old. He said that his father tries to make alioli but fails and blames it on the bad quality of the ingredients. The boy wanted to try making it himself. So he does. It was quick and easy. He concluded that all his father’s excuses are utter rubbish. Alioli is easy to make!
I then concluded that if a 13 year old boy can make it, so can I.
Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese Croquettes with Alioli Recipe
Ingredients for the croquettes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup finely chopped Serrano ham
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 cup breadcrumbs
olive oil for frying
Ingredients for the alioli
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes while mixing. Add the milk slowly while whisking and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes or until the mixture becomes smooth.
Finely chop the ham and cheese. I did it in a food processor.
Add the ham, cheese and nutmeg. Cook for another 1-2 minutes while stirring. The mixture should pull away from the sides of the pan. Taste the mixture and add salt if required. Serrano ham is very salty so you may not need to add anymore salt.
Transfer the mixture to a baking tray and spread it out so that it is even. Let the mixture cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook the croquettes, beat the eggs in a bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs along with a pinch of salt in another dish. Shape cooled filling into cylinders. Dip each cylinder into the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Place the completed croquettes on a wire rack or baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. This extra refrigeration time ensures the croquettes won’t turn into strange shapes when you fry them.
Fry the croquettes in very hot olive oil until golden.
To make the alioli, peel the garlic, cut them in half and remove the core. Put the garlic, olive oil and egg into a mixer. Mix until it becomes a thick consistency. It shouldn’t even take more than a minute to make.
- Since my first time making croquettes, I have learnt the secret of the universe to successful and very quick croquette frying. Make sure the oil is very hot and then put only 2 or 3 croquettes in the pan at the same time. If you put more in, this will drop the overall oil temperature, so the croquettes will take longer to fry and may turn out a bit mushy. Putting in only 2 or 3 at a time actually speeds up the total frying time considerably, and gives a better crunchier texture in the outside.
- For the alioli, I found that one cup makes a huge quantity. The alioli will only keep in the fridge for about 5 days, so if you think you can’t use it up in 5 days, just add less oil, as in half a cup. I’ve tried it and it works out fine.
- With regards to the garlic power of the alioli, most tutorials say to use 2-4 cloves of garlic. The first time I made it I used 2 and I thought it was way too strong. I found 1 to be optimal instead. Use 1, or more at your own risk.