The origin of the croqueta is in France where they are called croquettes. However, I have encountered croquetas far more often in Spain than France in the past 20 years or so of travel. Most of the time this has been at a Spanish tapas bar as one of the typical tapas offerings.
The croquetas can have different types of fillings, usually either milk-based or potato-based. I prefer the potato-based fillings, because they have a lighter taste. Also, they can be plain or with added cheese, ham (jamon), or vegetables such as leeks. This is an easy recipe for Spanish croquetas de jamon. If you are vegetarian then you can leave the ham out or substitute with cheese or another tasty ingredient.
1 pound potatoes (about 2-3 large potatoes)
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fine bread crumbs
100 g Serrano ham, cut into small pieces
Vegetable oil for frying
Peel the potatoes and cut into medium-sized chunks. In a medium saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the water then mash the potatoes well. Set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Add one egg to to the cooled potatoes along with herbs, butter, salt, and pepper. Mix until combined.
Prepare 3 small bowls, one each with flour, 2 beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs. Roll the potato mixture into 1-inch diameter balls. Coat in flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs. Place the balls onto a baking tray. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. The oil should be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. Wait until oil is hot then fry croquetas in batches until browned. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve warm on their own or with a side of aioli (garlic mayonnaise) or spicy tomato sauce.
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