Jamón, Leek and Manchego Croquetas and Salsa Rosa

Last week I was talking about Patatas Bravas and my confusion in the different variations and then, completely by chance I found an insight into the true description of the dish. What it should really be called is Patatas Fritas with Bravas Sauce. You can even buy ready made Bravas (spicy tomato) sauce, and just as I suspected it should be smooth and never chunky.

Anyway I found this out whilst reading the menu of a particularly well-reviewed Tapas restaurant, called The Salt Yard.  Since having children, I no longer seem to have the time or money for eating out in fancy restaurants, so I have to satisfy myself with reading their menus, and making it myself.

These Jamon, Leek and Manchego Croquetas with Salsa Rossa caught my eye and since I had some leeks to use up in my box this week, I thought I would give them a try.  Absolutely delicious, a real treat, even though as always I still had to do the washing up.


Jamón, Leek and Manchego Croquetas and Salsa Rosa

Makes about 15

100g sliced, good-quality cured Spanish ham such as Serrano or Ibericao

2 tbsp olive oil

60g unsalted butter

½ leek, finely diced

60g plain flour

400 -500ml whole milk

2 free-range eggs, beaten

150g panko breadcrumbs

25g manchego or other hard cheese, finely grated

1 litre olive oil, to fry

Dice your ham as finely as possible. Heat the oil and butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and, when the butter melts, add the leek and and fry gently for 5 minutes or so, then add the ham and cook until the leek has softened, and the ham fat has begun to melt for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat down, gradually stir in the flour and cook gently for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk, beating it in well, until you have a smooth paste. Cook for another few minutes until it has the consistency of smooth mashed potato and season to taste with some black pepper and a small pinch salt. Put the béchamel in a bowl and allow to cool, then cover, pressing the clingfilm on to the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Put the beaten eggs into a bowl, and the breadcrumbs and cheese into another. With floured hands, roll spoonful’s of the mixture into cylinders and dip these into the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs until well coated. Heat the olive oil in a large pan to 180C. Use a thermometer as the correct heat is very important. Prepare a plate lined with kitchen roll. Fry the croquetas in batches for a couple of minutes until golden all over, then lift out with a slotted spoon and serve at once.

Grilled Red Peppers

Salsa Rossa

6 tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded & chopped

1 large red pepper, roasted, peeled & chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp capers in vinegar, drained and chopped

2 anchovies, finely chopped (optional)

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

Slit leeks

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