Spanish Inspiration

I had a lovely time in Seville recently, visiting my friend Ruby and eating many, many nice things.

gorgonzola croquetas

One place we visited was La Brunilda where we had a really delicious lunch. I was intrigues by the fact that they offered both traditional ham croquetas and some with gorgonzola and walnut. This is my trying-to-recapture-holiday-vibes take on the latter.

I've tweaked it a bit, putting the nuts in the coating rather than the filling. There was a jar of quince jelly in the cupboard so I served it with a little spoonful of that as the sweetness goes so well with blue cheese. Also a sauce to cut through the richness, made from rocket whizzed up with a couple of glugs of olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

If I did it again I might make a pear puree instead of the quince. But either way these would be a nice accompaniment to a chilled glass of white, drunk al fresco, just at the point of the evening where the heat finally begins to fade from the day.  

Floured bechamel balls...

Floured bechamel balls...

Breadcrumbed before frying.

Breadcrumbed before frying.

 

Gorgonzola & Walnut Croquetas

Ingredients

  • 60g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 400ml whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • 40g gorgonzola
  • 75g breadcrumbs
  • flour for dusting
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g walnuts
  • oil for frying

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and stir in the flour. Cook for a few minutes over a low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring as you go to make a thick bechamel. Make sure each splash is absorbed by the flour/butter mixture before adding the next. At first it looks slightly granular, like yellow Play-Doh, but will gradually become paler and creamier as you go on. All the stirring is quite hard work but persevere. You might not need all of the milk. Stop adding it when the bechamel has a smooth texture but still stays in place and holds the spoon-path of a stir.
  3. Crumble the gorgonzola and stir it in along with a few gratings of nutmeg.
  4. Transfer the sauce into a plastic food-storage container or spread it out on a baking tray. Leave to cool for an hour and then chill in the fridge until needed (the sauce, not you. Although I wouldn’t blame you in this weather).
  5. When you’re ready to make the croquetas finely chop the walnuts in a food processor and mix them with the breadcrumbs in a plate. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  6. Put the flour on another plate and beat the eggs in a bowl.
  7. Get your hands floury, take a small tablespoonful of the gorgonzola bechamel and roll it into a ball. Repeat until all the cheese mixture has been used up.
  8. Then take each ball in turn, dip in the egg and then roll in the nuts and breadcrumbs. You might want to repeat this process for a double coating or they might leak during frying.
  9. Pour the oil into a pan until it is of a depth to cover the balls and heat until bubbling. (You could use half the amount and try turning them halfway through but they can be fragile.)
  10. Place the croquetas carefully in the oil, a few at a time, and fry until golden brown. Remove to a plate covered with kitchen paper (to absorb the extra oil) and serve whilst still hot.

Ifs And Ands

  • Leeks would be delicious in here, adding a little sweetness. Cook them slowly in the butter before adding the flour.
  • You could go traditional and omit the blue cheese in favour of jamon. In which case fry it briefly in the butter, again before adding the flour.
  • For a veggie take sweat finely chopped onion and red pepper in the butter instead of jamon and add a pinch of paprika.
  • Or try a more “British” version with ham hock and Cheddar cheese.
  • There don’t have to be walnuts. If you don’t like them, just replace with the same weight of breadcrumbs.
  • Or use mainly breadcrumbs but add some finely grated parmesan and/or chopped thyme to the coating.