We have made them with chicken, Iberian ham -and with a prize-, liquid, potato and mushrooms or Japanese-style, but the humble and delicious spinach croquettes, which are also suitable for vegetarian diets, had not yet peeked out. here (but today we come to remedy this mess). The most important thing for this recipe to turn out well is that the spinach is very well drained, because any type of water it contains will end up in the dough and cause it to explode when frying or the interior to be more watery than creamy.
This is easier if fresh spinach is used and directly sautéed; but it can also be achieved with the thawed version if it sits long enough in a colander and then sautés profusely until all the liquid is removed. I propose the use of mild oil instead of extra virgin for the sautéed spinach because it will be one more flavor that we will add to the croquettes, and I like that the flavor of the béchamel is maintained (that is why I also recommend using butter, which goes in the same line).
The most common dried fruit is pine nuts, but -especially taking into account the price at which they are- there would be no problem in changing it for hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts or toasted and not very small chopped cashew nuts: the idea is to find something that contributes slight bite resistance. We can also add cheese, both in pieces and melted with the béchamel, and other chunks that we like and will not interfere with the noble art of frying: I love fried onion and pieces of hard-boiled egg, for example.
In some bars and restaurants lately it is fashionable to grind the spinach with the bechamel to eliminate the bits of it, serving a kind of green without bits of vegetables with nuts. I am radically against this practice; I like spinach and I like its bite; If you have the urgent need to serve a Hulk-croquette, leave at least half of the vegetables cut with a knife.
So that the croquettes do not explode or fall apart when frying, it is essential to let them dry a little in the fridge on a wire rack, so that the batter can compact. Making them in small batches with enough oil will also help to keep it from getting cold. They freeze perfectly: their thing is to put them on a tray in the freezer so they don’t get deformed, set an alarm after an hour to give them time to harden and then transfer them to a bag or a container so the cold doesn’t burn them. At the moment in which we want to consume them, directly into the hot oil, drain and eat no less than half a dozen (because, as everyone knows, that is the minimum and non-negotiable amount).
It is more laborious than difficult.
For about 36 croquettes
- 120 grams of flour (and a little more for breading)
- 100 grams of butter
- 1 liter of milk
- 500g of spinach
- 80 g pine nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts or cashews
- A pinch of nutmeg
- chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- 2 eggs
- Panko or breadcrumbs
- Mild olive oil for frying and sautéing the spinach (butter can also be used for sautéing)
- If the spinach is defrosted, chop it with a knife, put it on a strainer for a couple of hours and let gravity do its job, pressing a couple of times with a strainer to make it easier for you to work. If they are fresh, chop them too.
- Sauté the fresh or drained spinach in a pan with a little oil or butter, salt and pepper (if the pan is not very large, make two batches). Near the end, add the toasted nuts and pine nuts. When they are ready, reserve again on a strainer to eliminate any possible remaining liquid.
- Prepare a béchamel by toasting the butter with the flour over a low heat for about six or seven minutes, or until it smells toasted. Add the hot milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Stir over low heat until thickened well.
- At that time, remove from the heat and add the spinach and, if you like, a little chopped parsley. Integrate everything well into the dough, take to a deep oiled tray, put film or a silicone lid making contact with the dough.
- Refrigerate for at least four hours (ideally overnight).
- Round the croquettes to the desired size -be careful not to end up making cannonballs to finish sooner- and coat them with flour, beaten egg and panko or breadcrumbs.
- Let dry on a rack in the fridge for at least half an hour (better one). Fry in abundant hot oil, drain and serve.
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