Thursday, October 16, 2008


Ever make croquettes? I had these at least once a year when I was a kid, it's one of the things my mom used to do with the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. 

Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. They're very good. And you can make them out of just about any type of meat, as well as seafood like shrimp, scallops and crab. But who ever has leftover crab? If you want a vegetarian version, you could do them with broccoli and cheddar, or sweet potato is also nice -- whatever your favorite vegetable is, as long as it's firm textured because mushy won't hold up. 

It was 10:30 a.m. and I was in the kitchen, as usual, looking in the fridge trying to figure out what to make my picky 18 month old toddler for lunch. I see the pork and red cabbage leftovers. No way would she eat that. Not even sure I wanted to eat it, the pork was very lean and dry. But then it occurred to me to just chop it up and make croquettes! 

In this post I'm not going to list recipe ingredients, just because there are so many variables. 

The first step would be to chop your cooked meat of choice. I had about 10-12 ounces of cooked pork. While chopping the meat, you can also add a little bit of onion/shallot or garlic (the garlic will not get a chance to cook very long, so just go easy on it).

Next, make your roux. I like to mix olive oil and butter to cut down a little on the butter, but be my guest and just use all butter if you like. For this batch, I used 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil, then added 3 tbsp of flour. 

Add milk to your roux. You want this to be very thick, like paste, so it'll hold that chopped meat together. So start by whisking in the milk about 1/2 cup at a time. I think here I used between 1-1.5 cups of milk. And go slow, because it gets thicker as it cooks. When it's good and thick (like frosting) you can add some cheese if you like. I added a half handful of shredded cheddar and a half handful of grated parmesan. 

Mix the roux and the meat. The best way to do it is to add the roux a spoonful at a time, so you don't get too much. What you see here is maybe a tad too much roux to meat ratio - but the benefit is that it will taste better. It'll just be more difficult to work with. After mixed, let mixture set up for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Spoon the mixture into Panko breadcrumbs and coat well. 

Fry on med-high in a nonstick skillet, coated well with canola oil. Add more oil as you do these in batches because too little oil and the Panko will not get all golden and yummy, it will just burn.

These make a great appetizer, but also could be a decadent main dish. 

I like to have mine on a bed of greens, dressed simply with oilve oil, fresh lemon juice and flakey sea salt and pepper. The greens and fresh lemon cut nicely through the richness of the croquettes.