Croquetas are very versatile. At my restaurant Jaleo, in Washington, we make them with mushrooms, jamon Serrano, even shrimp and crab. Your kids will love them, just ask my daughters! They devour them.
Yield: About 36 Fritters
¼ pound unsalted butter
½ Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped (about ½ cup)
2½ cups all-purpose flour
4 cup whole milk
10 ounces chicken, boiled and shredded (leftover chicken from a stock is ideal)
1 pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1½ cups of the flour and continue stirring vigorously. Cook for 5 minutes until the flour is cooked through and golden brown. Pour the milk into the flour mixture and cook, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes, until you have a thick béchamel sauce.
Add the chicken, and sprinkle in ½ teaspoon of salt and the nutmeg. Cook for another 2 minutes. You should now have a thick mixture that you can mold in your hands. Carefully pick up a bit of the mixture and try to ball it with your hands. It shouldn’t be too sticky. If it does stick to your hands, allow the mixture to cook a little longer. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet to cool.
Take a spoon of the mixture and roll in your hands to make a small cylinder, about the size of a wine cork. Roll the cylinder in the remaining 1 cup flour, then in the eggs, and then in the breadcrumbs and set aside on another cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture until you have about 36 croquetas.
In a small deep frying pan, heat the olive oil to 375 degrees (measured with a candy thermometer). Working in small batches, add the croquetas, making sure they are covered completely in oil. Fry until golden, about 1 minute, then transfer to a paper towel-lined tray to let drain. Be sure to allow the oil to return to 375 degrees on the candy thermometer between batches. Season with salt and serve hot.