Michy's Croquetas Recipe

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You asked, we fetched. Mercy wrote in: "I tried making Michy's croquetas and matched up the ingredients well -- but what breading is used?  Can you give me the receipe for the croquetas and fig marmalade? It is one of my favorites."

The recipe for croquetas with blue cheese and jamón serrano is actually on page 3 of Michelle Bernstein's cookbook Cuisine á Latina -- which I believe loosely translates to strike while the iron is hot. Then again, admittedly my Spanish still needs some work.

I could have just copied the recipe from said book, but gave Ms. Bernstein a call to get more details on the marmalade jam. My timing probably could have been better -- she was in New York getting set for the James Beard Awards dinner -- but Michelle did have some new croquetas news. A vegetarian spinach and feta croqueta has been added to Michy's menu (or is it Sra. Marinez' menu?), and she seemed genuinely excited about how good it tastes -- maybe even surprised.

As for the marmalade, Bernstein suggests purchasing a good brand of fig marmalade, and combining 8 oz. of it with two tablespoons of sherry vinegar and two tablespoons Amontillado Jerez. Where can you find a fine fig marmalade? Michelle says that, "believe it or not", the food sections at Marshall's and TJ Maxx at times carry a reputable Spanish import.

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Croquetas with Blue Cheese and Jamón Serrano

Ingredients:
3 tablespooons unsalted butter
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 ounces Gorgonzola dolce or other creamy blue cheese
8 ounces sliced serrano ham, cut into very thin 1/2-inch-long strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature
2 cups plain dry bread crumbs, preferably Japanese panko
Canola oil, for deep-frying

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the flour is thoroughly incorporated but hasn't browned at all, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Add the Gorgonzola, stirring until it melts completely. Stir in the ham, then season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Pour the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to spread it into an even layer. Refrigerate until it sets slightly but is still soft enough to pipe, about 1 hour.

Line a second baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and dust with 1/2 cup flour. Fill a piping bag (with no tip) with the cold croqueta mixture and pipe onto the floured pan in long cylinders from end to end. Roll the cylinders in the flour to coat on all sides, then refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Cut the cylinders of croqueta mixture into 2-inch segments. (You will get about 8 cylinders.) Pour the beaten eggs into a wide shallow bowl and put the bread crumbs in another wide shallow bowl. One by one, using a large fork or a slotted spoon, dip the croquetas into the egg mixture and then into the crumbs, turning to coat, then repeat, making sure to completely coat the croquetas, or they will leak when cooked. Place them on a baking sheet. (The croquetas can be frozen for up to 1 month. Arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then transfer to an airtight bag and freeze. Do not defrost before frying.)

To cook the croquetas, pour 3 inches of oil into a large deep heavy-bottomed pot and heat over medium-high heat to 360 F. Line a plate with paper towels. Fry the croquetas a few at a time, until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper-towel-lined plate. Return the oil to 360 F between batches. Serve immediately.

Any great dish you've had lately at a restaurant that you'd like to know how to prepare? Let me know and I'll do my best to get the recipe.

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