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My Tapas Supper.
I love tapas. And you know some of the things you eat in a tapas bar are actually very simple to do at home. A little bowl of olives. Some chorizo. Patatas bravas…
And then there’s croquetas. At their best light, fluffy, crispy melt in the mouth. And a great way to use up bits of cheese, ham and chicken.
My tapas supper had two cooked dishes, a Spanish tomato, olive, caper and shallot salad with a sherry vinegar dressing and a garnish of salad leaves. I’ve worked out that if you are going to dress a salad for tapas, using sherry vinegar makes a hugely worthwhile difference.
The first cooked dish is simplicity itself to make and is something I cook as a snack when I really don’t want to eat too much. Chorizo con vino is really very easy to make. Just chop off a good chunk of chorizo, remove the skin and cut it into thickish slices. Put the slices in a small baking dish, cover with red wine and add whatever fresh herbs you have. I used rosemary this time, but I’ve done it successfully with oregano and thyme. The mix goes in the oven for something between 15 and 30 minutes at about 160c. To serve, take the slices of chorizo and a little of the red wine jus and put in a new serving dish (the one you use to cook will be full of fat from the chorizo). Garnish with a little fresh parsley.
When you cook chorizo this way it looses a lot of the fat and becomes mouthwateringly tender.
The croquetas are the most complicated things I made but, they are something to make up well in advance and cook from frozen.
The recipe is a favourite of mine to use up left over chicken from the Sunday roast, you can pad out the mixture with as much or as little ham or bacon as you need to make up 4oz of meat. Or even use cheese.
1 pint of milk
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 oz flour
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
4oz cooked chicken and ham (total). I used 3 oz of chicken to 1oz (1 slice) of ham). You can use a slice of bacon (grilled) if you prefer.
To make up
2 slices white bread, crusts removed and either grated or blitzed to make breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons sunflower or other frying oil.
This quantity should make 16 smallish croquetas, or 12 larger ones, enough for 3 or 4 each.
Either chop the chicken and ham finely or blitz in a food processor
Put the olive oil and butter into a heavy based pan and heat until the butter is melted. Now add the flour and stir well. Continue to cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, warm the milk. I do this in the microwave for 30 second blasts until I start to see bubbles on the side of the jug.
Add a couple of tablespoons of milk to the flour and fats mix and blend in well over a gentle heat.
Continue to do this till all the milk is incorporated in the mix.
Now add the meat and if you like it, a little nutmeg. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.
Continue cooking over a very gentle heat stirring constantly for 10 minutes.
You should end up with a thick mixture.
Put it in a bowl, cover and leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
When you are ready to make up your croquetas set out three shallow bowls or plates with the flour in one, a lightly beaten egg in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.
Take a small handful of the mix in your hand and roll into a sausage shape. Dip first in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs
Continue till all the mixture is made up
If you don’t want to use the croquetas straight away you can leave them at this stage in a covered dish in the fridge or freeze them till you are ready to use.
Heat the sunflower oil in a deep frying pan and take 3 or 4 croquetas. Fry till golden brown on all sides, then drain on kitchen paper and put into a warm oven while you cook the remaining croquetas.
And, just enjoy!