Deep-fried ham fritters hit the spot on a cold winter day. Photo courtesy Kyle Books.



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May 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Meat & Poultry

Ham Croquettes Recipe

Also Known As Ham Croquetas Or Ham Fritters

This recipe is from Chef José Pizarro’s Seasonal Spanish Food (read the review), a conversational-style cookbook that will teach you how to shop and prepare Spanish cuisine seasonally. This is a recipe for winter when it’s chilly outside. Usually the roux is made with butter, but Chef Pizarro uses olive oil because he thinks it gives a better flavor. Regarding the meat, in Spanish delis, you can often buy cubed Ibérico ham (left over from carving the legs) which is idea for this recipe—meat from close to the bone has the best flavor. If you cannot find Ibérico ham, use Serrano ham instead, or indeed other cured hams such as prosciutto. Croquetas are a bit of a hassle to make, but they can be frozen and make great party food, so give them a try. Recipe yields 15 to 20 croquetas.

Ham Croquetas


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 small leek, diced as small  as possible (1/8 in pieces)

  • 3 ounces Ibérico or other air-dried ham, diced very small

  • ½ cup flour

  • 1/3 cup ham or vegetable stock

  • 1-¼ cups whole milk

  • Freshly grated nutmeg

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2/3 cup flour

  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten

  • 2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs

  • Olive oil, for frying


  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan until it starts to shimmer, then add the leek and sauté until soft, but not colored.

  2. Stir in the ham, cook for another minute, then stir in the ½ cup flour and cook over medium heat until the mixture is golden, but not burnt. This will take about 5 minutes. Don't rush this step: It is important that the flour is cooked properly otherwise the croquetas will taste like flour.

  3. Combine the stock and milk in a pan and heat until hot, but not boiling. Season the liquid with a few scrapes of nutmeg.

  4. Gradually add the liquid to the roux, a few tablespoons at a time, stirring the mixture constantly. Once you have incorporated all the milk, continue to cook the sauce for about 10 minutes until it thickens and leaves the sides of the pan when you stir it.

  5. At this stage, add a couple of twists of the pepper mill, taste the roux and adjust the salt if necessary—the ham can be very salty to start with. The sauce is now done: it must be really thick because you don’t want the croquetas to turn into pancakes!

  6. Smooth the sauce on to a baking sheet (an 8x12-inch pan is fine), then cover with plastic wrap to keep the mixture from drying out. Let cool before putting it in the fridge for an hour.

  7. When you are ready for the next stage, line up three bowls: one with flour, the other with beaten egg and the third with the breadcrumbs.

  8. Take the sauce out of the fridge. Dust your hands with flour, make a ball with the ham mixture and roll it between your palms. The size and shape of the croquetas is up to you, but the easiest is a walnut-sized ball.

  9. Next, dunk the croqueta into the flour—you want a dusting—followed by the egg and then the breadcrumbs.

  10. Put the croquetas on a tray and when you’ve used up all the mixture, put them all back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

  11. If you have a deep fryer, heat the oil to 325°F and fry the croquetas for a couple of minutes. If not, heat the oil in a frying pan until it starts to shimmer, then add 3 or 4 croquetas at a time and fry until they are golden all over.


Content © copyright José Pizarro. Other material

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