Croquettes have had ‘dag food’ stamped all over them since they leapt from the pages of 1970s cookbooks to the fast-food freezer shelves of Australia in the late 1990s. However, these golden fried morsels, when freshly made to a traditional recipe, blow the frozen stuff in boxes into cuisine oblivion. Our croquetas are always made fresh and served hot. Their crunchy breadcrumb exterior conceals a smooth velvety texture, which holds the rich flavour of meat or fish. At MoVida we make them with smoked eel, poached chicken or seasoned beef and pork. Prawn and egg are popular too. Croquettes can also be neatly transformed for vegetarians by using the buttery béchamel sauce with garlic chives or mushrooms. Once mastered, the thick béchamel becomes a base that can be played around with by the inquisitive cook.
Infuse the flavour of jamón into the milk by heating the jamón bone, milk and bay leaves in a saucepan over medium–high heat until the milk begins to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and steep the bone and bay leaves in the milk until the liquid has cooled to lukewarm. It must not be too warm, or the following roux will become lumpy. Remove the bone and bay leaves.
To make the roux, melt the butter over low–medium heat in a heavy-based saucepan and gently sauté the onion for about 10 minutes until translucent. Don’t allow the onion or the butter to brown.
Add the flour, a little at a time, until it has been absorbed by the butter, continuously mixing with a wooden spoon. Gradually mix in the cornflour — the roux should be smooth and silky but also a very thick paste, which resembles a lump of soft raw pastry. When the roux is made, stir in the jamón -infused milk, a little at a time, making sure that each addition of milk is completely incorporated before adding more. This will ensure smooth and creamy croquettes.
Continue to cook the mixture over low–medium heat, stirring constantly, until you obtain a thick paste, the consistency of which should be similar to thick, creamy, smooth mashed potato — this should take about 40 minutes. The flour taste should be completely cooked out. (Avoid scraping up any residual mixture from the bottom of the pan, as this may colour the sauce.) Remove from the heat and mix through the egg white, finely diced jamón, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
With floured hands, take
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