Ham croquettes (Croquetas de Jamon) are a classic Spanish tapas dish. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these little flavor bombs will knock your socks off.
When Fred Meyer asked me to develop a recipe for their “Taste of Spain” event, I couldn’t have been more excited. I spent a summer in Spain for a study abroad trip when I was in college, so Spain has a special place in my heart. When I started thinking about Spanish recipes, the first thing that came to mind was ham croquettes or croquetas de jamon. I ate them probably more than any other food while I was there. They are everywhere. Pretty much every restaurant or cafe has them on the menu, especially in the middle of the day when weird American students tend to eat lunch and the rest of the city is on siesta. (Just in case you are super curious, I put a few photos from my trip at the bottom of this post).
With my nostalgia for Spain fully awakened, I was inspired to make quite a few tapas that I will be sharing in the next few weeks. Fred Meyer was kind enough to send me a box of Spanish goodies to play with while developing a recipe for them. Great Spanish olive oil, tapas sauces, olives and more. They will all be available in the stores starting April 3rd, so get excited! The line will be available in ALL Kroger stores, so even if you don’t live near a Fred Meyer, if you live near any Kroger owned store you will be able to check it out. Also aren’t those classic terra-cotta cazuela dishes cute? Just like how tapas are served in Spain. Those are actually imported from Spain, and I got them at Fred Meyer too!
My study abroad trip was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I think that everyone should visit another country during their lifetime. Experiencing a different culture opens your mind in ways nothing else can. I was in my early twenties when I went, and I have been wishing lately that I could go back and experience it again. Although I was open to trying new things at the time, I have grown into a person with a greater appreciation for new things than I was at that time. Have you ever traveled abroad?
To be honest, this recipe seems a bit more complicated than most of the recipes I share on this site – I mean, you have to make a bechamel AND fry them! But really, it is not as difficult as it seems. The key to making a bechamel is to whisk in the milk very slowly so that the sauce doesn’t become lumpy. If you just dump the milk in all at once the flour will not be able to absorb the liquid and it will turn into a congealed mess – not good! Slowly whisk it in and you should be good. This isn’t something I would make every day, but is totally doable for a fun tapas night.
Ham Croquettes (Croquetas de jamon)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup finely minced onion
- ¼ and 1/2 cup flour divided
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs
- 6 ounces finely chopped serrano ham very finely minced
- pinch of nutmeg
- oil for frying
- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil and when butter is melted and oil is warm, add onion. Sauté onion until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup flour and whisk until browned and nutty, one to two minutes.
- Very slowly whisk in milk, a little at a time to avoid a lumpy sauce. Season with a little salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (remember that the ham is salty, so go easy on the salt at first). Continue to whisk constantly until sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes. When sauce has thickened, stir in ham. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
- Pour sauce into a baking sheet and allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours (can also be done the day before cooking).
- When ready to cook, preheat oven to 200°F and prepare a baking sheet fitted with a cooling rack. This is for keeping the croquettas warm after frying until you are ready to serve.
- Prepare a breading station by whisking eggs in one dish and placing breadcrumbs into a shallow dish, and ½ cup flour in another dish. Shape the dough into 1-2 tablespoon sized, football shaped balls. Roll in the flour, then in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs.
- In a heavy pot or deep fryer, bring oil to 350°F degrees.
- Add up to six, one at a time, into the oil and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. When removing from oil, place onto prepared rack and leave in the warm oven until ready to serve.
- These are best served fresh!
I had to dig deep into my archives to find my photos of my trip to Spain. I was hoping to find some photos of the food, but apparently in the days before iPhones I wasn’t as into taking food pictures. I actually didn’t even have a digital camera at that time, so my photos were taken with a not so fabulous point and shoot film camera.
Disclosure: I was compensated by Fred Meyer for this post, however my opinions, as always, are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Fox and Briar possible!