Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tapas!...Serrano Ham Croquettes With Manchego Cheese

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 I am going to start the year with a series of tapa recipes.They are not only great on their own but can also be served as part of the menu for a tapas party.  They are an inexpensive, filling and fun way to entertain, particularly in the present economic times.

Unlike hors'oeuvre, tapas are substantial, being in essence small dishes combined to make a full meal. So... just because we are not making as much money this year, don't think for a minute that we are going to stop entertaining.  We are just going to readjust our thinking and our wallets and think of new and creative ways to have fun and eat well!

These Serrano and Manchego croquettes are served at a restaurant called Sra. Martinez in the Design District in Miami. I had a delightful lunch there last Spring, after visiting the local Farmer's Market with a friend. The chef and owner is Michelle Bernstein, formerly of Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!.  Since then, I've been searching high and low for a recipe and I think I've found it.  Make sure you serve them with a fig marmelade on the side.

For my chicken and turkey croquettes click here.

Stay tuned for more tapas recipes, although I am going to stagger them around so we don't get bored!

Serves 8 as a tapa
Makes about 16


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping

1 3/4 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons finely chopped serrano ham

1/3 cup grated plus 1/4 cup Manchego cheese, (about 1 3/4 ounces)

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil, for frying

Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, for garnish

Fig Marmelade


In a food processor process first the cheese into fine crumbs.  Clean the bowl then process the ham until finely minced.  Set both aside until needed.

Heat butter and oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in milk, and cook, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in ham and 1/3 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Spread mixture onto a baking sheet, and let cool completely. Mixture can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days. Croquettes must be very cold before you go to the next step.  I usually make them one day and bread them the next.

Whisk together eggs in a shallow dish. Stir together breadcrumbs and remaining 1/4 cup cheese in another shallow dish. Scoop tablespoons of cooled mixture, and shape with floured hands into 2-inch ovals. Working with 1 oval at a time, coat in beaten egg, then in breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Heat 2 1/2 inches oil in a large, heavy stockpot until it registers 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches to avoid crowding, fry croquettes, flipping once, until dark golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. (Adjust heat between batches as needed to keep oil at a steady temperature.) Serve warm, garnished with parsley sprigs. Accompany with fig marmelade.


  1. Hello Lindaraxa~ ~It's so nice to meet you. I have come over from Reggie Darling who is a delight as are you. I have spent too much time this afternoon reading your blog. Your recipes look wonderful and I will try a few soon. Must go buy a duck. You have made this recipe look so simple that I will try it.
    The picture of your garden is stunning! What fun it would be to sip tea and cook with you. I'm sure that your kitchen is a masterpeice of style and efficiency. I am aware first hand that these two ingredents are not essential to cooking for a crowd as I gave many a party in my first very tiny kitchen, but it is so pleasant. Have a wonderful day.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  2. Ahrisha, thank you. I too enjoy Reggie's blog immensely!so much fun to comment. No, my kitchen is no longer a masterpiece of style and efficiency... used to be, but unfortunately, no more. If we want to, we can always entertain, even in the woods! Try the duck, I've managed to get it down to a science,particularly using the marmelade. My mother, the ultimate dinner guest , gave it 2 thumbs up this Xmas. Let me know how it turns out!


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