Parma Ham Croquettes

Thinking back to our wonderful holiday in Spain last summer and all the delicious tapas we ate in Seville, I decided to have a go at making croquettes and try to recreate that lovely holiday feel. The croquettes had to be 'make ahead' as no one wants to be deep frying at the last minute. I finally got there with this recipe. They are perfect as the smelly frying can be done way in advance and the little croquettes are very happy frozen and then reheated in a hot oven. They are a bit messy to make, but I think they are worth the effort. They are perfect as a canapé or as part of a tapas meal for friends. Just add some Spanish Tortilla and Prawns with Chorizo and perhaps a platter of Spanish charcuterie and open the Rioja. Delicious.

Ingredients - makes approximately 24

60g onion, chopped

25g butter

50g plain flour

250ml whole milk

90g Parma ham, finely shredded

50g mature cheddar cheese, grated

50g gruyere cheese, grated

2 tbs creme fraiche

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Pinch hot smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

50g panko crumbs

1 egg, beaten

25g plain flour

Vegetable oil


6 tbsp mayonnaise (home made or bought)

1 small garlic clove


1 tsp lemon juice (to taste)


Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onion until soft, but not brown.

Add the flour and stir to mix and cook the flour.

Slowly add the milk and stir until it thickens. It needs to be a thick sauce.

Stir in the creme fraiche, Dijon, cheeses, paprika and seasoning and stir until the cheeses have melted.

Leave to cool, then stir in the Parma ham. Cover and chill overnight.

To prepare the coating: Whizz the panko crumbs briefly in a food processor to break them down.

Put the flour, beaten egg and panko crumbs in separate dishes.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dampen hands and take a teaspoonful of the Parma ham and cheese and mould it into a small round or oval shape and put this on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. This is a very messy exercise, followed by an even messier exercise:

Roll each ball firstly in the flour, then the egg and finally the crumbs. Place on another covered sheet and chill for at least an hour.

When ready to cook: using a deep sided frying pan or wok, fill one third with vegetable oil and heat to 180°c (or use an electric deep fryer). Carefully put 4 or so croquettes in the hot oil and cook until golden brown. This should only take a couple of minutes. Drain on kitchen towel and serve or chill and freeze.

Serve with aioli: mash garlic clove with some salt until it is paste-like. Mix into the mayonnaise with a few drops of lemon juice.

To cook from frozen: preheat oven to 190° and cook on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Check they are piping hot before serving.

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