200 gm cured Spanish ham (like Serrano or Prosciutto)
finely diced
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 each large shallots
120 gm butter
120 gm all-purpose flour
1 L whole milk
2 each bay leaves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
1 tsp espelette pepper
Kosher salt and black pepper
50 gm manchego or Parmesan cheese
finely grated
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 each eggs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
lightly crushed
rice bran oil for deep-frying
  • fry pot
  • Fry basket
  • large pot
For the Bechamel
Heat the olive oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat and add half the cured ham. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes, until the ham is slightly browned and renders some fat. Add the shallot and saute until softened. Lower the heat, add the flour and butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring the roux constantly with a wooden spoon.. Whisk in the cold milk to make a béchamel, then add the bay, nutmeg, paprika, and espelette. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook the béchamel for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until it has the consistency of a smooth potato puree. Fold in the other half of the cured ham and the cheese. Adjust flavors to taste and spread in a hotel pan to cool. Press plastic wrap over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate and let cool completely before breading.
For the Breading
Use a ½ ounce scoop (or a tablespoon) to divide the béchamel into evenly-sized balls or cylinders. Roll in flour, dip in egg, then roll in breadcrumbs. If time allows, refrigerate breaded croquetas before frying.
Preheat deep fryer to 365F (or heat 2 inches of rice bran oil in a large pot). Fry croquetas in batches until golden brown and remove to a rack. Serve hot on warm platters.