How to make proper Spanish croquetas

Spanish chef Jose Pizarro created this recipe and step-by-step guide. He said: “Croquetas are one of my favourite tapas dishes, both to cook and to serve. They’re always a sell-out at my tapas bar. Warm, crunchy, soft and savoury, they’re indulgent, comforting – and go perfectly with a cool glass of manzanilla sherry. Salud!”

How to make proper Spanish croquetas

Serves 6-8 (makes about 25-30)

Takes 18 minutes to make, 40 minutes to cook, plus chilling

Top tips:

  • Use a good-quality fresh stock for these. Vegetable stock from cubes or concentrate 
can be overpowering.
  • After breading the uncooked croquetas, cover and chill for up to a day until you want to fry and serve them. Or, open-freeze the breaded croquetas, then transfer to freezer boxes. When ready to serve, deep-fry straight from the freezer.

You will need:

  • 475ml whole milk
  • 150ml good-quality 
vegetable stock (see tip above)
  • 85g butter
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 115g plain flour
  • 
150g baby leaf spinach, blanched, squeezed dry and chopped
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 
200g breadcrumbs, made 
from stale white bread, 
crusts removed
  • 1 litre olive oil for deep-frying

Method

  1. Put the milk and stock in a pan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and cook the onion 
and garlic over a low heat until soft.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook gently for 5 minutes, breaking up the mixture with a wooden spoon as it cooks, without letting it brown.
    Add flour to the butter
  4. Very gradually beat in the 
 warm, milky stock, beating 
well between each addition, so the mixture becomes silky smooth. Increase the heat very slightly and cook gently, stirring constantly, for 5-7 minutes to cook the flour.
    Pour in milk
  5. Add the spinach and pine nuts, then season with plenty of salt and a little black pepper.
    Add spinach and pine nuts
  6. Transfer to a shallow dish, spread out in an even layer and press a sheet of cling film onto the surface. Cool, then chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Put the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs into 2 separate shallow dishes. Lightly oil your palms and roll 1½ tbsp (about 
30g) of the chilled mixture into 
a small barrel shape, then repeat 
to form 25-30 croquetas.
    Shape croquetas
  8. Dip 4-5 croquetas at a time 
into the beaten egg.
    Dip into egg then breadcrumbs
  9. Then into the breadcrumbs.
    Dip into breadcrumbs
  10. Put on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and chill 
in the fridge for 45-60 minutes. Heat the olive oil for deep-frying to 190°C (or until a piece of bread turns golden in 30-40 seconds) and deep-fry the croquetas in batches 
for 2 minutes until crisp and lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain briefly on plenty of kitchen paper while you cook the rest.
    Deep-fried croquetas
  11. Serve hot with other tapas such as cured ham, olives and salted almonds.

Nutritional information, per croqueta (based on 30), 118kcals, 6.9g fat (2.7g saturated), 5.6g protein, 9.1g carbs (1.1g sugars), 0.3g salt, 0.6g fibre

José’s expert tips

  • Croquetas are a bit fiddly 
to make, but do what I do – make a big batch, then freeze half for when you have 
a party or you need a quick starter when friends drop in for dinner.
  • You can create all kinds of croquetas, flavoured with various ingredients. I love them made with jamón iberico. The best little pieces of ham to use are those closest to the bone as they’re fatty and have a really good flavour. Another lovely version is made with fresh white crabmeat and chopped parsley. Just add the ingredients of 
your choice at step 5.
  • A little bowl of alioli (garlic mayo) sprinkled with smoked paprika is an excellent dip, too.

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