In Spain they call them Croquetas - one of my favourite Tapas - but in Brazil we call them Croquetes and you can find them in almost every snack bar in the streets of Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. I have seen several recipes for Croquettes online before but when I chanced upon this recipe in YouTube the words 'creamy inside and crunchy outside' rang alarm bells in by taste buds and I decided to give it a try. You see, my template for a good croquette is the one served by this large snack bar by the side of the motorway to Terezópolis - Rio's mountain town retreat - a place called 'Casa do Alemão' (German House). I was brought up on this stuff. Theirs is almost a physical impossibility: a very light and crunchy breaded outside and volcanically hot gooey inside.
So this morning I set about testing Paulo Mauricio's recipe for 'Croquetes de Carne' and they came out almost perfect! The final texture was still a bit gritty, so next time I will definitely use a beef stew as a base. I would also leave some fat on the beef when making the stew add it to the mixture. The fat add more taste and would also help with the consistency of the gooey filling. These babies will be breaded and deep-fried after all, so they're not exactly diet food!
Paulo Mauricio's recipe does not mention spices or seasoning but I'm sure he used some.
Brazilians give very imprecise measurements for their recipes, so I weight the ingredients for the benefit of consistency.
1kg of mince meat (or stewed beef) 1 large onion finely chopped (200g) 1 cup of milk (250ml) 6 tbsp of plain wheat flour (85g) 3 tbsp of finely chopped spring onions 2 tbsp of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 2 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce 1 tsp of ground cumin 2 tsp of sweet paprika 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper 1 tbsp of salt A drizzle of Olive Oil
for breading: 2 whole eggs 2 cups of breadcrumb flour 3 tbsp of cold water 1 tbsp of cornflour
- In a large pan, sweat the onions and then add the mince meat, ground cumin, sweet paprika and black pepper.
- Stir all ingredients together and brown the meat. Once brown all over cover the pan and lower the fire. Leave it to cook for 10 mins
- Set the meat aside to cool.
- When the meat has cooled down slightly, transfer to a food processor and blitz until most of the beef has been broken down into a thick paste.
- In a separe container, stir together the plain flour and the milk.
- Transfer the beef paste back into the large pan over a high fire, pour in the flour and milk mixture, the salt and the Worcestershire Sauce and mix until the paste is consistent enough to hold form.
- Let the mixture cool down completely and leave in the fridge for an hour. This will help it hold its form when being rolled into the croquette shapes.
The rolling, breading and frying:
- Crack the 2 eggs into a shallow bowl and a drizzle of Olive Oil. Mix together the water and cornflour and add stir into the egg mixture
- Remove the meat mixture from the fridge and shape with your hands into little rolls approximately 3" long and 1" in diameter (although some people prefer them smaller).
- Roll the resulting shape in the egg mixture and then on the breadcrumbs. Being very delicate and careful not to ruin their shape.
- Deep fry them in a deep chip pan or electric fryer with a light vegetable oil for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown
- Drain them on a tray with paper towels
Serve with wedges of lime, Worcestershire Sauce, Dark German Mustard, Tabasco or other peppery sauce.
This recipe should yield around 15 large croquettes or 25 small ones.