Wesley Genovart, the chef and owner at SoLo Farm and Table in Vermont, grew up eating croquetas in Spain but decided to move away from the classic chicken, salt cod or jamón Serrano fillings with this seasonal variation. His thick béchamel sauce, studded with smoked bacon, apple and onion is formed into balls and rolled in panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Once they take a quick dip in the fryer, they're transformed into a delicious study in opposites: a crisp golden crust that encases a gooey filling. And Genovart serves them with spiky pimentón aioli, a creamy complement.
Smoked Bacon, Apple and Onion Croquetas with Pimentón Aioli
Recipe adapted from Wesley Genovart, SoLo Farm and Table, South Londonderry, VT
Yield: About 25 to 30 croquetas
Cook Time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour refrigeration time
½ cup finely chopped smoked bacon
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
1 medium apple, finely chopped (such as Macintosh)
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups whole milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon smoked sweet pimentón
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko
1. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, combine the bacon and onion and cook until the onions are translucent and soft, about 7 minutes. Add the apple and cook until it begins to release water, about 4 minutes. Stir in the butter and mix until melted. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the milk little by little, adding more as it is absorbed, until all the milk is incorporated. Cook, whisking constantly, until the taste of flour is gone, 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and place in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator and chill.
2. Make the aioli: In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, pimentón and lemon juice. Season with salt and set aside.
3. Finish the croquetas: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. In another medium bowl, add the flour. In a third medium bowl, add the panko. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and, using your hands, form ½-inch-round balls. Dip each ball into the flour, then the eggs and finally the panko.
4. In a large saucepot, add enough canola oil to come 4 inches up the side of the pan. Set over medium-high heat and bring the oil to 350°. Add the breaded balls in batches and fry until golden brown, about 1½ minutes. Use a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the croquetas to a paper-towel-lined sheet pan; repeat until all the croquetas are fried. Serve hot with the aioli.
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