December is all about parties with family and friends, and these little guys will have your friends talking at your next party. In Brazil we make these with ground meat. I have had a ham and cheese croquette before too. I went ahead and gave these a whirl with my own little twist of using half aged cheddar, gruyere cheese and adding some spinach to the mix. Trying to convince myself that by adding spinach into it would give it a little bit of nutrition. I love hot sauce so I just drizzled some sriracha on the dish for dipping. I hope you enjoy this little treat.
1 Cup of Chopped cooked ham
1/2 cup of Aged Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese
1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cups of All purpose flour, (Plus another cup for breading)
4 cups of Whole Milk
Salt & Pepper, to taste ( remember the ham and cheese have salt to begin with)
1/4 cup of thawed spinach
1/2 Teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of paprika, optional
Vegetable Oil or Peanut Oil (for frying)
2 Eggs, beaten, add 2 Tablespoons of water
2 Cups of Italian Panko Crumbs (you can use plain as well)
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, place butter and olive oil in pan & let melt for about 2 minutes. Next whisk flour in with butter and olive oil. Making it into a paste. Then slowly start to add the milk, whisk until there are no lumps and smooth. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika. Next add cheese and whisk then add ham and spinach. Whisking everything together. Place the mixture on a large flat plate or baking sheet and cool for about 1 to 2 hours.
After an hour or 2. Take out the mixture from the refrigerator and begin to form little balls about the size of a golf ball. Then place them in the flour, beaten egg and then panko. Place each ball to the side until they are all done.
Next, using a large dutch oven or large pot fill with vegetable oil halfway through. Oil should be between 350 to 360 degrees. Slowly drop the balls in a couple at a time. Fry for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and place on a plate with paper towel. Let cool for a couple minutes before biting into them. (WARNING: They are super hot when removed from oil)