Friday, 15 February 2013

Spanish recipe: Croquetas with roast chicken (Thermomix)

I have always been a huge fan of croquetas, Spanish croquettes made with creamy bechamel, breadcrumbed and fried. Unfortunately my bechamel, unlike my grandma's, had always been quite lumpy and croquetas can be very time consuming.

When I asked my grandma about 15 years ago for her bechamel recipe, she said "You need your grandfather, same as you do for my arroz con leche (similar to rice pudding), I may do the cooking but it's thanks to him that they are so smooth". And it was true, whenever she made bechamel or rice pudding (the creamiest of the creamiest), she cooked but my abuelo was in charge of the essential continuous stirring. No wonder my croquetas dough was always lumpy!

Ever since I got the Thermomix I knew the task of making croquetas was going to be much easier, in fact I loved making my first bechamel in it (for a lasagna) as it was so easy and it came out so smooth.

I researched croquetas recipes high and low, I made the first ones with chorizo but I wasn't totally happy. I do love chicken croquetas and making the most of our gorgeous Maple-glazed roast chicken leftovers, so I decided to make chicken croquetas based on this recipe from the Cocinando con Kisa blog.

But I made a mistake, one of those mistakes that turned out to be good! I had meant to have little bits of chicken among the creamy bechamel but instead I left the chicken in the TM bowl, totally forgetting to remove and reserve it, and ended up with really creamy smooth croquetas.

The key is to let the dough rest in the fridge overnight or at least as long as you can so that it is really cold, before shaping it into croquetas.

Now, I am a clumsy cook, the croquetas tasted lovely but I remain rubbish at frying them. Just remember, I don't claim to be a chef or the best cook in the world, not even a good one, and my presentations skills are lacking. However, taste is taste.


Ingredients

For the bechamel dough
  • Approx. 100-120 g roast chicken leftovers. Just pull the meat out of the bone, sit down listening to some lovely music or watching a nice show while you do this
  • OR
  • Shop-bought roast sliced roast chicken but why would you when my Maple-glazed chicken with sesame seeds is so easy to make?
  •  50 g olive oil
  • 100 g butter
  • 170 g plain flour
  • 800 g milk at room temperature (this is important), I used whole milk
  • 1 chicken stock cube (I tend to use Kallo) or you could substitute some of the milk with some homemade chicken stock
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg (you can grind nutmeg in a few seconds in the Thermomix before you start, I did)
  • A pinch of salt
For frying
  • Eggs (start with 2 but you'll probably need more)
  • Breadcrumbs (they need to be quite fine)
  • Olive oil (a good amount)
Equipment
Thermomix TM31, shallow pyrex dish or similar, large frying pan, a bowl for egg and a large dish for bread crumbs, kitchen paper

How to make the dough
  1. Add the chicken to the Thermomix bowl, press the Turbo button 3 times. If you want totally smooth croquetas, leave the chicken in the bowl, otherwise reserve the chopped chicken on a plate/bowl for later.
  2. Add the oil and butter to the bowl: Varoma, 3 minutes, speed 4.
  3. Add the flour: 100ºC, 3 minutes, speed 2.
  4. Add the milk, stock cube, ground nutmeg and salt: 10 seconds, speed 6 then 7 minutes, Varoma, speed 4. Note: if you reserved some of the chicken it's now time to add a few spoonfuls of it (about half I'd say).
  5. Pour into the Pyrex dish (and add the rest of the chopped chicken if you reserved it).
  6. Let it cool before sticking it in the fridge overnight, the dough needs to be very cold.
Masa de croquetas, pollo asado, bechamel, roast chicken, leftovers

Making the croquetas
 
Some people use a piping bag for this, some people use two spoons, I use my hands and to be honest for me it's the worst bit, I'm not very good at giving them shape or frying them. Then again, my kitchen isn't part of a restaurant and Michelin starred I am not (nor shall I ever be). However, I do love eating at Michelin-starred restaurants (just in case you are wondering or run one!).
  1. Whisk a couple of eggs (you may need more), lay the bread crumbs on another plate and have a third plate ready
  2. get a bit of the dough, give the croquetas shape and first coat them in egg, then coat them in bread crumbs, it helps to coat them in egg and bread crumbs a second time as this helps keep them together when frying.
  3. Fry them in a large frying pan with quite a lot of olive oil, over a medium-high heat, not for long, just until the breadcrumbs are golden. Cover a dish with kitchen paper and let them rest in the kitchen paper so that some of the oil is soaked (I do this a lot when frying).
You can either eat them immediately or later, you get rather a lot of them (approx. 50) so they are perfect for parties, picnics, lunchboxes and even to fry in batches if your family keeps different timetables. Of course, they are perfect for TAPAS.

They should be goldeny all over, don't do like me
Tip: Try the dough as it is when just prepared or before frying it, it's DELICIOUS!

I'd love some feedback on this one as I've only tried it a couple of times. So, if you try it do let me know how you get on and if you tweak it (I love it when you all adapt my recipes as I myself am rubbish at following a recipe to the letter) and please send me some photos of your croquetas!
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