A rich, indulgent tapa that’s easy to make at home.
When the guys from Mahou brewery in Spain got in touch and asked if we’d like to create and share a tapa recipe to go with their premium beer Alhambra Reserva 1925, it took us literally seconds to decide what we were going to cook. It just had to be our jamon and Manchego croquetas.
Whenever we eat tapas, whether it’s at home, in Spain or at one of London’s many excellent Spanish restaurants, it’s usually a safe bet that a plate of croquetas will end up on our table. Filled with gooey, cheesy béchamel sauce, bread crumbed and deep fried; croquetas are undoubtedly a calorific treat but are 100% worth it in our book.
Ingredients (makes around 16 decent sized croquetas)
60g flour (+ another 30g for flour dredge)
1 Tbsp sunflower oil (+ extra for deep frying)
450ml whole milk
1 bay leaf
Pinch fresh ground nutmeg, salt & pepper
70g Manchego cheese
50g mature Cheddar cheese
6 slices reasonably priced jamon or serrano ham
2 Spring Onions (finely sliced)
80g panko breadcrumbs
1 large beaten egg
1. Finely dice the shallot and gently fry in a saucepan with a splash of sunflower oil for a couple of minutes till translucent.
2. Add the butter and stir until it melts, then gradually sift in the flour; stirring all the time to make a roux. Cook for a few minutes, still stirring to make sure it doesn’t catch on the pan.
3. Add the milk little by little, stirring constantly (using a whisk if necessary). If you stop stirring, you’ll end up with a lumpy béchamel so be careful to avoid this. I always add the cream after the milk to reduce the chance of lumping. Now add the bay leaf and cook for another 15-20 mins or until thickened. Add the nutmeg, sliced jamon and grated Cheddar and Manchego and cook until the cheese has melted into the sauce. Season to taste.
4. Remove the bay leaf, set aside and cover with a buttered baking paper cartouche. When cool, place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to set.
5. Now take care of your mise en place. Take the chilled sauce out of the fridge and place on a worktop. You’ll need 3 shallow dishes for the crumbing so arrange them in order of use – flour first so (next to the saucepan), then egg and finally breadcrumbs.
6. Either quenelle the chilled sauce into shape or get your hands dirty and just roll them up. Either way is fine but if you do the latter, make sure your hands are damp or the mixture will stick to your fingers. They don’t have to look perfect at this stage. This is rustic, home style cooking and when they are fried they will look just fine.
7. Next roll in the flour mix, dip and roll in the beaten egg and finally coat generously with breadcrumbs. If your béchamel is thick enough, the crumbing should prevent any major leakage when frying but this is always a danger. If you want to play safe, double-crumb the croquetas
8. Place in the freezer for ten minutes to chill the coating then fry at 175°C for a few minutes until golden. If you spot any leaks, remove from the fryer and finish in a preheated oven at around 160°C
9. Serve with aioli, a wedge of lime and a cold beer
Competition (fulfilled by Mahou San Miguel)
What would be your perfect tapa for pairing with Alhambra Reserva 1925? Comment below and you could win a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer to enjoy with your own tapa creations!
Comment before midnight (BST) on September 30th 2015 to enter. The prize consists of 2 x 750ml bottles of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer.Find out more about Alhambra Reserva 1925