My 11 year old was excited for ham on New Year's Day, though she barely touched it. She was waiting for the second day of the new year. "Mom, are you going to make those tapas potatoes? Please!"
Tapas are Spanish in origin and different explanations surround its origin, including bread covering a glass of wine to deter fruit flies, salty cured meats being served to increase bar tabs, etc. Tapas are "small plates" of food - anything from a dish of olives to ham croquettes to tortilla de patatas. Tapas bars have become part of American culture. I've been to Zaragoza, Spain, with its historic center with narrow cobblestoned streets dotted with tapas bars. Different bars specialize in different tapas. It gives more meaning to bar hopping. The idea behind tapas, or small plates, is to promote the social aspect of eating. You are not focused on an individual plated meal but rather share in the eating of several small plates.
This is a great dish that uses leftover ham and mashed potatoes. If you don’t have leftover mashed, make your potatoes ahead of time and allow them to cool. Don’t try to substitute instant. [I’m not a mashed-potato snob; I actually love them from a box. No judging!] You need thick potatoes; the mash needs to hold its shape.
The culinary theme of your croquettes can be easily changed. I went for a Latino/Spanish-themed croquette using smoked paprika and a peach sauce made with “crema.” Omit the paprika, but use leftover gravy or make it Italian and use tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Be creative.
This makes 8-12 croquettes, depending on the size. Make it gluten free by substituting flour with glute-free flour.
What you need:
- 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/2 c onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
- 1/2-1 c cubed cooked ham, (depends on how much ham you want)
- 3 c mashed red potatoes
- 1 c shredded cheese
- Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 c bread crumbs (I used a mixture of panko, Italian, and crushed nuts)
- Flour, about 1/2 c
- 1 c peach salsa
- 1/2 c crema (Central or South American sour cream)
- A bit of grated cheese
- Cilantro would have been nice, but I was out
What you do:
- Heat about 1 tbs EVOO in sauté pan over med heat.
- Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 min.
- Add garlic and cook about 2 min.
- Add smoked paprika and mix well until combined.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In lg bowl add mashed potatoes, ham, cheese and onion mixture.
- Stir to mix until combined.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide mixture into 8-12 balls. (Use an ice cream scoop!)
- Place bread crumbs, eggs and flour in separate sm bowls.
- Spread flour on flat surface and flour your hands.
- Roll croquette in flour.
- Roll croquette in egg and then in bread crumbs.
- Place croquette on baking sheet.
- Refrigerate for 30 min.
- Heat oven to 275°.
- Heat 2 tbs EVOO in sauté pan over med-high heat.
- Add 4 croquettes and cook until crispy, turning often.
- Drain on paper towel and place on baking sheet.
- Repeat, adding more oil if needed.
- Place in oven until ready to eat.
- Combine ingredients in med saucepan over med-high heat.
- Whisk often and remove when mixture begins to boil.
- Place a small amount of sauce on individual serving dish.
- Top with 2-3 croquettes.
- Drizzle with additional sauce.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese, and cilantro (if you remember it).