A few weeks ago I picked up my son’s friend at the airport. She had just returned from a trip to Spain and France and as soon as she got into the car, she started telling me about the wonderful foods (and wines) she had during her travels. Her stories took me right back to the time when our family had gone traveling through Spain with some of our Spanish friends. She told me that she had loved the Spanish Croquetas and that I should try making some for my blog. that’s how I remembered the Croquetas de Pollo I had in a tapas bar in Madrid and I decided to experiment; to try my hand at it. Of course, being Indian I added some chili flakes and some fresh herbs to the original recipe – I loved the kick the chili added to the Croquetas.
1. 1 lb boneless chicken breast meat (skinless)
2. 2 cups of chicken stock
3. 1 cup of water
4. 2 and ½ cups of all-purpose flour
5. 4 cups of whole milk
6. One large onion
7. 1/3 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
8. 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
9. 5-6 leaves of fresh sage
10. 6-7 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
11. 2 cups of bread crumbs
12. 3 eggs
13. 2 cups of olive oil (for frying so it needn’t be extra virgin olive oil
14. ½ stick of unsalted butter (1/8 of a lb)
15. 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
16. Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a medium sized pot, pour the 2 cups of chicken stock and one cup of water and keep it to boil on medium heat.
2. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks that are 2-3 square inches big and place them in the pot to cook. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
3. While the chicken is cooking, peel the onion and dice it in small pieces.
9. Over low heat, brown the flour while stirring constantly. Make sure that you stir the entire pot and don’t let any parts of the flour get darker than the rest of it. All the flour should get evenly browned. This process may take 3-4 minutes. Keep stirring constantly.
10. When the flour looks a little browned (lightly colored), add the milk to the pan and stir vigorously. You have to incorporate all the flour and the milk evenly. So thorough stirring is essential while keeping this mixture over low heat. This is the standard béchamel sauce.
12. Add salt, pepper (to taste) and also the red chili flakes and stir all the contents to make a smooth evenly spiced mixture. Take the pan off the heat and let this cool down. Usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour to cool down.
13. When the chicken and béchamel mixture has cooled down, shape the Croquetas using your hands – they should be the same size and shape as a standard wine cork. Keep placing these on a large cookie sheet or a plate.
14. When all the chicken and béchamel mixture has been shaped into croquettes, set up a breading station with three separate bowls – the first one with the remaining cup of all-purpose flour, the second one with whisked eggs and the third one with bread crumbs.