These ham hock and pea croquettes are made from a stiff béchamel, rather than mashed potato that so many versions of croquettes seem to be bulked out with. They need to be eaten hot – so hot you burn your fingers on the crisp breadcrumb exterior as you rush to bite into the oozing, cheesy, molten centre. The smoky ham and tangy mustard make the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer or cider.
Makes about 40
- 75g butter
- 75g plain flour
- 500ml whole milk
- 100g mature cheddar, grated
- 1 tbsp mustard
- Salt and white pepper
- 200g cooked smoked ham hock, shredded into chunks
- 100g frozen peas, defrosted
- flat-leaf parsley a handful, finely chopped
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 150g panko breadcrumbs
- groundnut oil for deep frying
- Melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Gradually stir in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add the cheese and mustard and stir until melted, then add the ham, peas and parsley and season. The mixture should be quite thick and paste-like. It will thicken a little more once chilled too.
- Scoop into a tray or dish, cool, then chill completely in the fridge. (This can take 2-3 hours, or you could make it the day before.) Scoop out large tablespoons of the mix and roll each into small logs, around 5cm long and 2cm thick. Flouring your hands slightly will help prevent the mix from sticking to everything.
- Put the beaten egg on one plate and breadcrumbs on another. Roll the croquettes in the egg then the crumbs. Repeat so you have two layers of egg and breadcrumbs.
- Fill a pan no more than 1/3 full with oil and heat to 180C (or until a cube of bread browns in around 30 seconds), then deep fry the croquettes in batches for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden. Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper (you can keep the cooked croquettes warm in a very low oven). Serve with English mustard and cold beer.