The Basque country of Northern Spain is one of the most celebrated culinary regions in the world. With deceptively simple, rustic dishes created from humble, high-quality produce and local ingredients like eggs, olive oil, salt cod, cheese and bread (to say nothing of the jamòn), this is one part of the world where you’re guaranteed to eat well every meal of the day. How else could Basque country boast the most Michelin stars of anywhere in the world? Join London-based Basque chef José Pizarro on a journey through his native cuisine and get inspired!
Croquetas, croquetas, croquetas. Many people tell me that they make a beeline to Spanish restaurants for the croquetas and the tortilla, and we are very proud of ours. This is one of the most popular flavors at the restaurant; they are so creamy and moreish. You can freeze them ahead of time, and then just defrost before frying.
- 1 pound, 2 ounces baby leaf spinach
- 1 2/3 cups full-fat (whole) milk
- Scant 1/2 cup strong fresh vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1/3 cup goat's cheese, crumbled
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- Olive oil for deep-frying
For the croquetas
Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the spinach with a tiny splash of water. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until completely wilted, then run under cold water. Once cold, squeeze out all the water. Chop finely and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the milk and the stock together. In another saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat, add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. When the mixture starts to turn brown, begin adding the milk and stock very slowly until you get a really silky-smooth mix. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
Add the cheese to the mixture slowly, then add the spinach and stir constantly until it is well combined. Season with salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg.
Spread the mixture onto a shallow tray and press a sheet of cling film (plastic wrap) over the top. Cool down in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
Put some oil in the palm of your hand and roll the mixture into 30-gram (1-oounce) balls. If they are a little soft, pop them on a tray in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.
Place the beaten egg and the breadcrumbs into two separate bowls. Dip the croquetas first into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil to 180°C (350°F) and fry the croquetas for around 2 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, then eat straight away.