Ham Croquettes

Ham Croquettes

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium finely minced onion
1/3 cup flour
1-1/2 cups milk (more or less) at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
4 cups (about 1 pound) smoked ham, ground
1 cup dry bread crumbs (more or less)
Salt & black pepper to taste

2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup dry bread crumbs mixed with 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large pan, melt the butter, add the onions, and sauté until translucent.
Stir in 1/3 cup flour to make a roux – add more butter if necessary to make a smooth roux. Gradually whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. Your sauce needs to be very thick – like wallpaper paste. Whisk in nutmeg, sherry, and parsley. Fold in the ground ham and one cup bread crumbs.

Let simmer for five minutes on low heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary – the ham probably has enough salt already. Spoon the mixture into a baking pan and refrigerate until well chilled – at least one hour. NOTE: The mixture needs to be firm enough to form into rolls. If your mixture is too soft or sticky, add some additional bread crumbs.

Shape the ham mixture into logs about 3/4-inch thick and three inches long.

Make an egg wash by beating the eggs with water until frothy in a small bowl.

Combine the bread crumbs and flour in a second bowl; add salt and pepper.

Dip the logs in the egg wash and roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Dip a second time and re-roll in bread crumbs.

IMPORTANT: Cover logs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two to three hours. (You may also freeze for later use, or use the freezer to quickly chill them.)

Sauté the croquetas in hot oil – about 350º F, a few at a time, three to four minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. You may also cook them in a deep fat fryer.

Variation: Chicken

You can easily substitute an equal amount of COOKED chicken for the ham – white or dark meat, or a combination. Grind the cooked chicken in a food processor. Add a dash of fresh lime juice to the ground chicken. You can also grind in a handful of chopped cilantro for a nice flavor twist. (Omit the parsley if you do so.)