Croquetes de Carne - Meat Croquettes
And another Portuguese favorite. I feel that there are so many recipes still waiting to be posted on my blog, real jewels of the Portuguese cuisine which I am truly hoping to make available for all those out there either wanting to cook the food that reminds them of their childhood, or for those that are wanting to try a different cuisine. These meat croquettes are a common appetizer in Portuguese homes and restaurants. Matter of fact, you can almost be certain to find them on the table of any get together, holiday or special occasion.
But much like their equally famous appetizer friends, the Rissois(Rissoles) and the Pasteis de Bacalhau (Codfish cakes), they tend to intimidate a lot of people, me included to be perfectly honest. It took me quite a long time to really get my hands in there and go for it without wanting to run in the opposite direction.
I don't know why though because once you actually get to make these, they are very straight forward and use the simplest of ingredients. Only con to making them?
They can be a bit time consuming, but with a bit of planning in the kitchen, it's a piece of cake. For these, I highly recommend a meat grinder, I actually just picked one up this weekend and I can not wait to start making homemade sausage.
If you do not have a grinder, then a food processor should do the job as well. Keep in mind that you have to let the meat mixture sit overnight to get the best croquettes out of it. There are many versions out there, but this is how I make mine....
Croquetes de Carne (Meat Croquettes)
1 lb leftover roast roast(if I don't have any leftovers, I actually just buy a pound of pork and roast it)
half a chourico
Salt and Pepper to taste
egg for dipping
To roast the meat, I season it with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and ground cloves. Drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of a baking pan, set the meat in there and pop it into the oven at 350 for about two hours or until done. When ready, set aside and let cool.
Pull out the meat grinder and following the directions, grind all the pork roast, then grind the chourico into the same bowl, mix both well.
Cover and place in the refrigerator.
Now, make a quick bechamel sauce. I don't have a recipe for this, I eyeball it but I usually do about 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, once it is melted, I add in about 2 tablespoons of flour and stir well. Then grab some milk and start pouring it in slowly, using a whisk stir vigorously to remove any lumps. You need about a cup and a half of the bechamel sauce for these, so add just enough milk for that. Continue cooking until thickened, remove from heat and add in some salt and pepper to taste and some nutmeg.
Remove the meat from the refrigerator and start adding in the bechamel sauce a bit at a time, give a good stir, then add in a little more. You want a nice consistency, kind of sticky but still dense so that you can shape the croquettes without them falling apart. Once you reach that consistency, give it a quick taste, adjust the seasonings as needed, some salt, pepper, you can also add in some garlic powder if you wish. Cover again and pop back in the refrigerator until the next day. When you're ready to make the croquettes, take small amounts into your hands and shape them into croquettes, think of mozzarella sticks, only thicker.
Dip in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs.
Fry in hot oil for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Let sit for about 5 minutes before eating. I actually prefer them cold. Refrigerate any leftovers, though I doubt there will be any.
NOTE: If you want to freeze for later, after dipping in the egg and rolling in the breadcrumbs, pack into a tupperware box and set in the freezer, when ready to eat, just remove them and fry them :)