There’s hardly a Southern antebellum cookbook that does not include at least a few croquettes, made with everything from chicken and turkey to ham and seafood to mashed potatoes and boiled grits or rice. Served at breakfast, as a practical midday meal, or even as a side dish for roasts and stews at more formal affairs, the versatile croquette (like the fritter) has been not only the perfect way to use various leftovers but a means for the cook to experiment with all sorts of ingredients and techniques. I was raised eating salmon, crabmeat, ham, chicken, and turkey croquettes on a fairly regular basis (at country clubs, in department store tearooms, at diners, and of course at home), and after a hiatus of some forty years, when the croquette fell into disfavor everywhere except cafeterias, it’s encouraging to see these wonderful oval patties reappearing (often as fritters or “cakes”) in a few upscale Southern restaurants and on dinner tables—sometimes with a creamy mushroom or spicy tomato sauce.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat, add the onion, sprinkle on the flour, and whisk till softened, about 3 minutes. Whisking rapidly, add the chicken broth, milk, and sherry and whisk till well blended. Add the turkey, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and Tabasco and stir till well blended. Remove the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, add the egg yolks and whisk till well blended. Return the pan to the heat, cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, and remove from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, let cool, then refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.
Spread the flour and bread crumbs on two separate plates. Shape the turkey mixture into 6 to 8 balls, roll lightly in the flour, and pat into oval patties. Dip the patties in the egg wash, then in the bread crumbs. Place on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill about 30 minutes before cooking.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over moderate heat till a little water flicked with the fingers sputters. Add half the patties, fry till golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes on each side, and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining patties. Serve hot.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.