Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese Croquettes with Alioli

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!

SERRANO HAM AND MANCHEGO CHEESE

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

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
salt
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
olive oil for frying

Ingredients for the alioli

1-2 cloves of garlic
1 egg
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.

Notes:

  • 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.

12 Comments

  1. Hanna 2017-07-08 at 04:26

    The art of making a meal from left overs of left overs is something our generation is easily forgetting. Hahaha, aioli in making, the 13 year old boy was right, well done Sofia!

    Reply
    1. Sofia V. 2017-07-08 at 09:43

      You’re right, we’re not very good at that! What I usually do with leftovers is that once I have a few accumulated, we have them as a “tapas” dinner! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sanne 2017-07-08 at 19:59

    I love croquettes! It was my friend who introduced me to the Spanish ones at a tapas restaurant in New York. They were so tasty that we got a doggie bag for the ones we couldn’t finish. We left them in the flat we rented and then somehow forgot about them until a few days later, when the smell of cheese started spreading:)

    Reply
    1. Sofia V. 2017-07-10 at 09:22

      Oh no!!! haha But how could you possibly forget about eating a doggie bag with croquettes?

      Reply
  3. Darya 2017-07-12 at 15:51

    Haha! Your post made me laugh. It is sad that your grandmother doesn’t remember the recipe, but as you say, just create your own bestest ever croquette recipe! You can do it now you know how easy they are.
    I loved your aioli anecdotes; here too there are so many myths about making mayo, and seriously… without an electric mixer you can’t go wrong… if you follow some basic principles. These two together look amazing, I wish I could have been there to taste them. Or we can make our own next time you visit!

    Reply
    1. Sofia V. 2017-07-31 at 11:40

      Yes such a pity she can’t explain it to me! But not worry, Of course I’ll create my own. Do you make mayo without an electric mixer? Yes we can make our own next time 🙂

      Reply
  4. mimi 2017-07-13 at 15:13

    What a great post!!! I love that you still have your grandmother around, for one thing, but hopefully she remembers other recipes. Your croquettes look really wonderful. And that aioli – perfect!

    Reply
    1. Sofia V. 2017-07-31 at 11:42

      She remembers her dishes but not how to make them. We cook for her now anyway.
      Yes homemade croquettes are the best, and alioli too -even though I can’t have alioli now for some months 🙁 …

      Reply
  5. Dalo 2017-08-08 at 21:22

    Wonderful post Sofia, and I really look forward to your future posts about cooking…as now you will be eating for two 🙂 Wishing you well!

    Reply
    1. Sofia V. 2017-08-09 at 09:13

      I think I’m only eating for one and a bit for now, in mini portions spread out during the day! I’m well and I hope you are too!!

      Reply
  6. Randall 2017-09-10 at 06:34

    This is such a great read ~ mainly the story and history of your Grandmother and her croquettes… I love when I have such a feeling when I am eating something that brings back a memory from childhood, especially of a loved one 🙂 And also for introducing me to croquettes, I really do not think I’ve ever had one!

    To making more memories today ~ and of course, for you, preparing memories for the future 🙂 Take care, Sofia, wishing you the best.

    Reply
    1. Sofia V. 2017-09-10 at 09:22

      You never had a croquette? Oh my Spain is full of them!!! But when you try one, I hope its a good one!
      Thank you, yes I’m preparing to make very different and new memories now 🙂
      Take care

      Reply

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