If you are a fan of mozzarella sticks, prepare to have your life changed. Because these are to Mozzarella sticks, what a Harley Davidson is to a tricycle. There just is no comparison.
Here’s the lowdown: thick, creamy bechamel sauce, loaded with sharp manchego cheese, encased in crispy bread crumbs and fried. Yes, you hear me right.
These little babies hail from Spain, and would be found anywhere that served tapas. So, not technically a Street Food, but anyone who has been to Spain can tell you that Tapas is all about traveling.
It’s about going from one bar to the next, sampling the best little morsels from each establishment before spilling out onto the street, into the night, in search of more wine and more food! So these are an honorary member of the Street Food community.
And we are so lucky to have them. That gooey, molten cheese interior is what dreams are made of. Croquetas are the ultimate embodiment of a bar snack; alongside a drink they are absolute heaven, but an entire plate of them would be too rich, too heavy, too much. With a glass of crisp white wine, they are perfect.
I couldn’t resist throwing in a few fresh rosemary leaves (that I stole from a bush down the road) into the oil – they look great and they taste gorgeous, too. And I love to serve a slab of quince paste – aka membrillo – alongside these as well, because manchego and membrillo are made for each other. These are a serious party food, people, so definitely break them out next time you have a reason to celebrate!
- 3½oz (100g) manchego cheese
- ½ stick (50g) butter
- ½ cup (75g) plain flour + ½ cup extra
- 1 + ¼ cup (310ml) milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
- Canola or vegetable oil, for frying.
- Optional: fresh rosemary leaves & quince paste, to serve
- Grate the manchego cheese finely, and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, and add ½ cup of flour all at once. Stir well over the heat, until the flour is totally incorporated into the butter.
- Add the milk, a splash at a time, stirring over the heat until each splash is incorporated. Once all the milk is in, turn off the heat, season with the nutmeg and black pepper, and then stir through the cheese. Scrape out onto a plate and place in the refrigerator for about an hour, to chill completely.
- When the mixture is chilled and you're ready to cook, get out three bowls. Place the extra flour into one of the bowls, the beaten egg into another, and the breadcrumbs into the third.
- Take about 2 tablespoons of the chilled manchego mixture in your hands, and shape into a small sausage. Roll it first into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, making sure it is well coated. Continue until all the mixture is used.
- Place about 2 inches of oil in a saucepan, making sure it is no more than a third full. Heat the oil to 350F/170C. Carefully lower in 2-3 croquetas at a time, and cook until they are very crisp and golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Let them drain on some paper, while you continue until all the croquetas are cooked. If you like, you can throw some fresh sprigs of rosemary into the oil, they go beautifully crispy and look great sprinkled over the croquetas to serve.
- Eat these while piping hot and crispy, with a cold glass of beer, or some Spanish wine.