The Creamy Pantry Croquetas José Andrés Always Ate Growing Up

Chef and humanitarian José Andrés is arguably the most famous Spanish person in America today. He was born in the northern, mountainous Spanish region of Asturias but spent the most memorable years of his childhood in the Catalonian city of Barcelona, where he also trained to become a chef.

But even as he learned his craft at the School of Restaurants and Hotels of Barcelona and worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in his home country, he still credits his mother, Marisa, for being his inspiration in the kitchen. "From the time I was a little boy, I always loved being in the kitchen," he said in 2010. "Growing up, my mother always cooked; we did not go to restaurants much as money was tight, and I was often at her side. She was a simple home cook, but at her side I learned the power of food to evoke memory — in my parents' case, of Asturias and the family they left behind when we moved to Barcelona," per Open Table

Andrés food memory involving his mother also serves as the inspiration for a mouthwatering savory treat that casts leftovers in a truly delicious light. The chef and humanitarian says his mother was fond of making croquetas, the Spanish version of croquettes, particularly when there was a need to make use of whatever she had in the pantry, per People.

Andrés' recipe for croquetas breathes new life into leftovers

Those looking to make croquetas today can do what Andrés' mother did by taking whatever leftovers you might have in the refrigerator, from meats to vegetables, to make the treat with. Croquetas may be slightly different from the croquettes that you might be familiar with because these are made with bechamel sauce instead of mashed potato.

To make croquetas you'll need to start by making a thick bechamel sauce out of butter, milk, and flour, then adding the leftovers until everything is combined. Cook further until the bechamel mixture is the texture of hummus, then cool on a baking tray. When that has cooled down enough to handle, roll the hardened bechamel into small, 1-1/2 inch rolls or logs, then dip in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Croquetas need to then be fried in hot oil until they are golden; they should also be served hot.