CHORIZO, JALAPENO AND BLACK BEAN CROQUETTES

I suppose the title here is all wrong. Being flavoured with the piquant nip of chorizo and manchego, I’m guessing they should take their Spanish name: croquetas. But I can’t part with the school-dinner version. I remember the yelps of joy as we entered the dinner hall to see ‘potato croquettes’ scribbled hurriedly onto the blackboard; the bright orange cylinders of spud were adored by all. In my heart these will always be croquettes. 

 (c) Nassima Rothacker

(c) Nassima Rothacker

INGREDIENTS - Makes about 20

For the filling

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 35g plain flour 
  • 350ml whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 200g Manchego cheese, coarsely grated
  • 50ml double cream
  • 200g chorizo picante, very finely chopped
  • 100g (drained weight) black beans from a can
  • 75g (drained weight) jalapeños from a jar, roughly chopped

To finish

  • 75g plain flour 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g breadcrumbs
  • Sunflower oil, for frying

To serve

  • Garlic mayonnaise
  • Lemon wedges  

Method

Start by making the sauce. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat until the butter melts, then stir in the flour using a wooden spoon to make a very thick paste. Allow the paste to cook for a minute until browned slightly. Slowly add the milk, beating constantly – I switch to a whisk when half of the milk is incorporated to ensure there are no lumps. This will be very thick, like porridge without the oats. Reduce the heat to low and cook stirring for a minute or so, to ensure the starchy taste of the flour is cooked off.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the tomato purée, mustard, cheese, cream, chorizo, beans and jalapenos. Pour the mixture onto a plate, cover with clingfilm, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until very stiff – if you have the time and patience, overnight is better.

To assemble, prepare a little production line: put the flour onto a plate, beat the eggs into a bowl, and put the breadcrumbs onto another plate. Scoop tablespoonfuls of the chilled filling and shape into chunky pellets – I dip my hands in a little flour to stop the croquettes sticking and roll them into short, fat cylinders. Dust the croquettes in flour, dip them in the egg, then coat them in breadcrumbs. Place the coated croquettes on a plate or tray ready for frying.

Heat 2cm of oil in a large sauté pan or casserole and allow it to get hot. Fry the croquettes for a minute or so per side until bronzed and crispy – don’t overcrowd the pan or the croquettes will never become golden enough; fry in batches.

Transfer the fried croquettes onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to blot off any excess oil, and serve.

Deep-frying option

Although the method above works fine, I do prefer to deep-fry the croquettes to retain their shape. Heat a deep-fat fryer to 170°C. Once hot, add the croquettes, in batches, fry until golden then blot on kitchen paper to remove excess oil before serving.  

Make in advance

The croquettes can be made completely and frozen before cooking. Place them, well spaced, on a baking sheet and freeze. Once solid, put into an airtight container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to three months. The croquettes can be deep-fried from frozen, but will take a little longer at a slightly lower temperature.