Almost every gastronomy has one dish similar to what Spaniards call “Croquetas”. There are two fundamental things which are key to get this recipe right; The flavour of the bechamel and how to fry the croquetas. Once you execute those things correctly, almost any ingredient variation or shape will do.
In a nutshell, a croqueta is a flavoured bechamel which gets fried after covering it in breadcrumbs.
The bechamel will hold together any ingredient/flavour you might want to make croquetas of. One of the first decisions we'll need to take to create our croqueta is the ratio of ingredient/bechamel. I’ve tried lots of croquetas which having an intense flavour didn’t have any solid within them, and some others which were about 90% ingredient and just a small amount of bechamel holding it together. Do not stress much about getting it right the first time; it is hard to make a bad croqueta.
Another important factor about the bechamel is its texture once it gets fried. You can make a really roux heavy bechamel which will produce a quite solid croqueta, or you could go to the other extreme and make the bechamel quite thin so once fried the interior of the croqueta will be almost liquid. This texture is as amazing as challenging, as it will require you to be gentle when forming the croquetas as well as quite careful and precise when frying them.
Finally the taste. You can make croquetas out of any food, but remember that one of the key aspects cooking them is that the flavour needs to be well defined. It is quite common to infuse the milk with some of the ingredients so that the bechamel will have a reminiscence of that taste. For example, if you are cooking ham croquetas, infusing the milk with a ham bone will skyrocket the final flavour. You can use spices and herbs or even replace a small proportion of the milk with a strong stock
You can make croquetas of any size or form, but the most traditional ones are either oval or spheres. That been said, rectangular croquetas are common.
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