Ham and Crab Croquettas

Sam and Eddie Hart create two variations of this ubiquitous Spanish tapas menu staple
By Sam and Eddie Hart
Ham and Crab Croquettas
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 20 of each
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus overnight chilling
  • Effort: medium


For the crab bechamel

  • 500 ml full-fat milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tsp light olive oil
  • 80 g slightly salted butter
  • 200 g white and brown crab meat, cooked
  • 70 g plain flour
  • pinch of sea salt

For the ham bechamel

  • 500 ml full-fat milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tsp light olive oil
  • 80 g slightly salted butter
  • 125 g Iberico ham, cubes or strips
  • 70 g plain flour
  • pinch of sea salt

For the croquettas

  • 1 small loaf of good quality white bread
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 500 ml vegetable or groundnut oil, for frying


For the crab béchamel -
1. For the crab bechamel: make this a day ahead. Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the bay leaves and slowly bring to the boil. Take off the heat and leave to infuse.

2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan and gently cook the crab over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

3. Beat in the flour and salt and cook for approximately 3 minutes, stirring continuously until you have a smooth 'roux'.

4. Slowly add the milk little by little, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes. When the milk is almost all used, the béchamel should be smooth and thick. Add the rest of the milk and cook for 1 minute.

5. Pour the thick béchamel onto a large plate or tray and allow to cool. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

6. For the ham béchamel: repeat the above process but instead of crab, use the ham.

7. For the croquettas: slice the bread, remove the crusts and leave out to dry overnight. If they aren't dry the following day place the slices on a tray in the oven at 50C for about 30 minutes, but do not allow them to colour.

8. Break the bread into pieces and chop them to fine breadcrumbs in a blender or food processor. Tip them out onto a plate.

9. Arrange the béchamels, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs from left to right on your work surface.

10. To shape the croquettas, use 2 dessertspoons of the béchamel mix to form quenelles or oval shapes, about 4cm in length.

11. One at a time, dip the bechamel quenelles into the beaten egg, then coat in the breadcrumbs.

12. Gently shape the croquettas by rolling them between your cupped hands, applying more breadcrumbs to cover any bare patches. Carefully line them up on a plate.

13. Repeat until all the mixture has been used, and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

14. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or deep saucepan to 180C and cook the croquettas, 4 or 5 at a time. Carefully immerse them in the hot oil and deep fry for 2-3 minutes. Drain and keep warm until all are cooked. Serve.

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