Spinach & goat’s cheese croquetas
Of all the things I eat at Jose Pizarro's lovely tapas bar José, the croquetas are my favourite. Here's a recipe for the spinach ones from his brilliant book Basque.
"Croquetas, croquetas, croquetas. Many people tell me that they make a beeline to Spanish restaurants for the croquetas and the tortilla, and we are very proud of ours. This is one of the most popular flavours at the restaurant; they are so creamy and moreish. You can freeze them ahead of time, and then just defrost before frying."
Makes 32–34 croquetas
500g (1 lb 2 oz) baby leaf spinach
400ml (13 fl oz) full-fat (whole) milk
100ml (3½ fl oz) strong fresh vegetable stock
80g (3 oz) butter
125g (4 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
80g (3 oz) goat’s cheese, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
125g (4 oz) dry breadcrumbs
olive oil for deep-frying
Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the spinach with a tiny splash of water. Cook for 3–4 minutes or until completely wilted, then run under cold water. Once cold, squeeze out all the water. Chop finely and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the milk and the stock together. In another saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat, add the flour and cook for 2–3 minutes. When the mixture starts to turn brown, begin adding the milk and stock very slowly until you get a really silky-smooth mix. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
Add the cheese to the mixture slowly, then add the spinach and stir constantly until it is well combined. Season with salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg.
Spread the mixture onto a shallow tray and press a sheet of cling film (plastic wrap) over the top. Cool then place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
Put some oil in the palm of your hand and roll the mixture into 30 g (1 oz) balls. If they are a little soft, pop them on a tray in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.
Place the beaten egg and the breadcrumbs into two separate bowls. Dip the croquetas first into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil to 180°C (350°F) and fry the croquetas for around 2 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, then eat straight away.
From BASQUE: Spanish Recipes from San Sebastián and beyond by José Pizarro (Hardie Grant, £25.00) Photography © Laura Edwards
What to drink:
In no particular order 1) cava 2) fino sherry 3) albarino, I'd suggest. Sauvignon Blanc would also work.
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