Mrs. Regueiro's Plate: Ham Croquettes {Croquetas}

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ham Croquettes {Croquetas}

I can't believe this month is almost over and Easter is around the corner. Once all the Valentine's decorations were off the shelves from the stores, Easter basket galore, Cadbury eggs and marshmallow bunnies have filled it's spot. It's one of those weird years that Easter comes early, but it is a nice reminder that Spring is almost here, too. Actually this is my personal reminder that I need to work on our vegetable and herb garden, and Eric and I have some busy dirt-filled weekends ahead of us. Hopefully, we can plant some tomatoes, bell peppers, and a wide array of herbs. It's always nice to enjoy the fruits of your labor during the coming months of Spring and Summer.

These ham croquettes are commonly served at holiday parties like Easter as appetizers or can be consumed for any meal of the day. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, it doesn't matter or even as that perfect midnight snack. Typically, we enjoy them in a Cuban medianoche sandwich (sweet bread sandwich with pork and ham) with a croquette sandwiched in between, or most often by themselves. They are the perfect Cuban snack because once you start eating them, you can't stop. More importantly, it's an appetizer you can prepare using all that leftover Easter ham.

These beautiful ham croquettes are made out of a mixture of ground ham and spices and lightly breaded and fried to perfection. I warn you that this is a time consuming recipe, and most often we purchase a box of them already prepared at our favorite Cuban bakery, or sometimes if available in the frozen section. However, homemade is always a great way to save yourself that long trip to the bakery and a great way to salvage the extra ham.
Ham Croquettes {Croquetas}
Adapted from iCuban
ZipList Add Recipe
{Printable Recipe}
For the Croquettes:
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon dry sherry
4 cups (1 pound) smoked ham, ground
3 cans (4.25 ounces) Deviled Ham
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Complete Seasoning

For the breading:
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup dry bread crumbs (mixed with 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Vegetable oil (for frying)


In a large pan, melt the butter, add the onions, and saute until translucent. Stir in 1/3 cup flour to make a roux, adding more butter if needed to make a smooth roux. Gradually whisk in the milk and whisk until it forms a smooth sauce and has thickened. Whisk in nutmeg, sherry and spices. Fold in the ground ham and breadcrumbs.

Let mixture simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Taste for seasonings, add salt and pepper. Spread mixture into a large jelly roll (9x13) baking pan and let refrigerate until cool, at least one hour. Note: Mixture needs to be firm enough to form into rolls. If your mixture is too 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 croquettes in the egg wash, and roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Dip a second time and re-roll in the bread crumbs. Place croquettes on a large jelly pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two to three hours, you may cook immediately or freeze them for later.

When ready to serve, cook the croquettes in hot oil (about 350 degrees), a few at a time, three to four minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oil and let drain on a paper towel plate.

Yield: 3+ dozen croquettes

Review: Almost a knockoff recipe from our favorite Cuban bakery, and the trick to making these is making sure they are coated twice with the breading and making sure that the oil is hot enough to fry them. If you fry them in parcooked oil, you run the risk of them breaking. If you are not a fan of ham, you can always substitute chicken, too.
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