Smoked Salmon & Dill Croquetas
Croquetas are one of the most popular dishes in my restaurants and I spent ages perfecting this recipe. Usually the roux is made with butter, but I use olive oil because I think it gives a better flavour. Everyone loves having smoked salmon at Christmas time and these smoked salmon & dill croquetas are an interesting way to serve it. They can be a bit of a fiddle to make, but they can be frozen and make great party food when served with a cold glass of cava!
Heat the olive oil in a pan until it starts to shimmer, then add the leek and sauté until soft but not coloured. Fry for another minute, then stir in the flour and fry over a medium heat until the mixture is golden but not burnt. This will take about 5 minutes. It is important that the flour is cooked properly otherwise the croquetas will taste of flour.
Combine the stock and milk in a small pan and heat until hot but not boiling. Season the liquid with a few scrapes of nutmeg. Gradually add the liquid to the roux, a few tablespoons at a time, stirring the mixture all the time. Once you have incorporated all the milk, continue to cook the sauce for about 10 minutes or until it thickens and leaves the sides of the pan when you stir it. At this stage, add a couple of turns of the pepper mill, the dill and smoked salmon – taste the roux and adjust the salt if necessary. The sauce is now done: it’s got to be really thick because you don’t want the croquetas to turn into pancakes! Smooth the mixture on to a baking tray (30cm x 20cm is fine) then cover with clingfilm to stop it drying out. Leave it to cool before putting it in the fridge for an hour.
When you are ready for the next stage, line up three bowls: one with flour, the other with beaten egg, and the third with the breadcrumbs. The shape of the croquettes is up to you, but the easiest is a walnut-shaped ball. Take the salmon mixture out of the fridge.
Dust your hands with flour, make a ball with the mixture and roll it between your palms. The size of the croquetas is up to you, but the easiest is a walnut-sized ball. Next, dunk the croqueta into the flour – you want a dusting – followed by the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Put the croquetas on a tray and when you’ve used up all the mixture, put them all back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
If you have a deep fat fryer, heat the oil to 175°C/325°F and fry the croquetas for a couple of minutes. If not, heat the oil in a frying pan until it starts to shimmer, then add 3 or 4 croquetas at a time and fry until they are golden all over.
Makes 15 to 20 croquetas
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ small leek, diced as small as possible – 3mm pieces
70g smoked salmon, sliced very finely
60g plain flour
75ml vegetable stock
325ml whole milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g plain flour
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
75g dried breadcrumbs
1 tbsp dill, chopped finely
Olive oil, for frying