Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Croq A Doodle Do
I had a plan. I was going to combine my leftovers and make a delicious dinner of bacalaitos. Delicious little cod fritters seemed to be in my future. But then it happened. I got home and was suddenly no longer in the mood for fritters despite having spent the day searching countless websites and cookbooks for the perfect recipe. I'm not sure why this happens from time to time, why I psych myself out of a carefully choreographed meal that I've often been craving for days. Regardless of why (although it's possible that I was missing baking powder), I got home and immediately started craving another delicious cod dish--croquetas. I've made bacon, chicken and ham ones before, but I haven't had fish croquetas since I was a kid (they're the same as croquettes, for the Francophiles reading). Fortunately for me, they're all made the same way and with the same bechamel sauce.
When I was a kid (and this may come as a shock to my mom) every time someone made bechamel sauce within 10 feet of me, I managed to sneak several spoonfuls for myself. Nothing seems to have changed with age or time, as I managed to eat about half of the bechamel before I could fork in any of the fish. I suppose I could have waited to make the bechamel until the fish was done, but I figured every cook needs a little snack now and again while cooking, right? I didn't actually have all that much time to snack since the cooking portion of the meal happens so fast. All I had to do was create a quick roux with butter, flour and milk to make the bechamel sauce, while the cod poached in milk and water. The poaching only took about 10 minutes, and the sauce came together in about the same time. I decided to add some Parmesan cheese for saltiness and a little depth of flavor, and although traditionally cheese is not a part of any croqueta recipe, I was super happy with the results.
They had a thin, super crispy crust on the outside and a creamy, gooey inside. It didn't taste the least bit fishy (probably because I used fresh cod instead of the traditional salt cod), and I physically had to restrain myself to keep from eating 15 of them for dinner. Here's my recipe:
Cod and Parmesan Croquetas
1/4 lb fresh cod, poached
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
2 Tbsp flour
1 to 2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups breadcrumbs (I like seasoned, but plain are fine too)
2 eggs, beaten
vegetable oil for frying
1. Melt butter in a skillet on medium heat until it starts to bubble. Whisk in flour and cook on medium low heat whisking occasionally until fragrant and nutty (you just want to cook out the floury flavor).
2. Slowly stream in milk until mixture resembles the texture of yogurt. Flake in the cod and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, taste for seasoning and transfer mixture to a shallow plate. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
3. With wet fingers or two spoons, roll mixture into egg shapes, 1 tablespoon at a time. Roll each croqueta in breadcrumbs, then in egg, then coat completely in breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.
4. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot on medium-high heat and fry croquetas in batches until golden brown. Enjoy!