His Mother’s Son
The first time I read about Spanish avant-garde chef Francis Paniego I fell in love, with his mother. An award winning chef in her own right, Marisa Sánchez is responsible for Echaurren, a restaurant serving traditional Riojan food connected by a small inn to El Portal, the cutting edge restaurant run by her son.
Now that I am looking more thoughtfully at traditional cooking, I see the push and pull between old and new everywhere. I like of the thought of these two restaurants sharing a kitchen, side by side like a whim of Gaudí. I decided to try to make Marisa’s Chicken and Serrano Ham Croquetas, served at both restaurants. I included a picture above of the uncooked breaded croquetas because they were much prettier before I inflicted my skittish frying on them, as seen below.Croquetas de Pollo y Jamón Serrano/Chicken and Serrano Ham Croquettes
This recipe is adapted from a Marisa Sánchez as it appeared in Bon Appetit: The SON Also Rises, September 2007. The complete article can be found on this link as well as additional information about the Rioja region.
9 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/3 inch cubes
4 ounces Serrano ham or prosciutto, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry Sherry
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 large eggs, mixed
4 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and sauté about 5 minutes until translucent. Add chicken and cook for an additional 5 minutes until cooked through. Add ham and sherry and cook until almost all liquid evaporates. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Whisk until thickened and smooth. Mix white sauce into chicken mixture. Add hard boiled eggs and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Chill in a large bowl until cold, at least 2 hours.
Spoon chicken mixture by rounded tablespoons. Press into breadcrumbs forming the croqueta into an oval shape, dip in the eggs, then dip in breadcrumbs again. Repeat with remaining croquettes.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add croquettes in batches and cook until deep golden brown. Transfer croquettes to paper towels to drain.
Makes 32 croquetas.