Monday, November 14, 2011

Ham Croquettes with Egg Sauce

Croquettes never featured in my growing up. The only person I know who makes them is Mrs. Curtiss. Her family demands them every Christmas. The only place I've ever had them in the United States is at Jaleo, the tapas restaurant and those were cod croquettes. However, in the Netherlands you can buy croquettes at every corner restaurant. I like them, but my husband is crazy about them.
I decided to branch out of New England, at least for our dinners at home, and made ham croquettes with egg sauce. This is another one of those what do we do with the leftover stuff recipes. Naturally, we didn't have leftover ham, but the Smithfield corporation, in its wisdom, has figured out that people will buy slices of their ham, even if they won't buy a whole ham. So, with a plastic wrapped slice of Smithfield ham and the food processor, I was in business.
Mrs. Curtiss made the croquettes seem like a real production, but they aren't too bad. You have to make a white sauce and mix in the ground meat, and then chill it. But thanks to the fact that my husband has been getting home close to 9:00 pm, I was able to make the sauce, mix in the ground meat, chill it and fry it.
The only drawback to making croquettes is knowing what to do with the leftover oil. You can't pour it down the drain like they do in Leicester Square, in London. A couple of years ago, the British sanitary authorities discovered a huge, boxcar sized lump of congealed fat in the drains under the square. I left it sitting on the stove for a couple of days, and finally poured it back into the bottle it came in and deposited same into the trash.
The croquettes have a couple of steps, but they are not difficult to make. With their egg sauce, they are very tasty. My husband was delighted.

Ham Croquettes with Egg Sauce

3/4 plus one third cups butter
3/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cups milk or light cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups finely ground cooked country ham
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
4 eggs lightly beaten
dry bread crumbs
fat or oil for deep-frying
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
light cream
6 hard -cooked eggs, chopped

1. Melt three-quarters cup of butter and blend in the flour. Gradually stir in the milk or cream. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring, three minutes.
. Place the ham in a bowl and add Worcestershire, mustard and one and one-half cups of the sauce mixed with two of the lightly beaten eggs. Set remaining sauce over hot water.
3. Mix ham and sauce and set aside to cool. Chill. Shape the cooled mixture into croquettes, dip in remaining eggs and then in the bread crumbs. Repeat if necessary to get a good coating.
4. Fry a few croquettes at a time until golden, using a fry basket, in fat or oil heated to 365 degrees. Drain on paper towels.
5. Heat remaining butter in a skillet and saute the onion in it until tender. Add the mushrooms, green pepper, sage and marjoram and cook until vegetables are tender.
5. Add enough light cream to reserved sauce to make pouring consistency. Stir in cooked vegetables and chopped eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve separately with croquettes. Serves six.

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