25 g butter
½ small onion, finely chopped
50 g plain flour
250 ml milk
140 g sliced smoked ham, diced
50 g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
50 g Gruyère, finely grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp double cream
For the coating
2 large eggs
50 g plain flour
140 g dried breadcrumbs
2 litres sunflower oil for frying (deep)
For the tomato chilli jam
300 g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped (deseeded if you don't like it too hot)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
100 g demerara sugar
100 ml red wine vinegar
- To make the croquetas, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and gently fry the onion for 3 mins or until lightly coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for 30 secs. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, and cook over a low heat for 5 mins until thick and glossy. Stir in the ham, cheese, mustard and cream, and season to taste. Cook for 1 min more until the cheese melts, stirring constantly.
- Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming. Leave to cool, then chill for 4 hrs or overnight – the mixture needs to be very stiff to form the croquetas. Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and, with wet hands, roll into 24 small oval shapes and put on a tray. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl, put the flour on a plate and half of the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
- Roll each of the croquetas lightly in flour, then in egg before coating in breadcrumbs. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Use the remaining breadcrumbs to top up the bowl halfway through the coating process. Chill for 30 mins.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato chilli jam. Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover loosely with a lid and cook for 50 mins–1 hr, stirring occasionally, until thick and glossy. Leave to cool before serving.
- Fill a large saucepan one-third full with sunflower oil and heat to 180C (or heat the oil in an electric deep-fat fryer). Do not overheat and do not leave hot oil unattended. Using a metal slotted spoon, lower 6 croquetas into the oil and cook for 1½ mins or until golden brown. Transfer to a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil, and continue cooking the rest. Serve with the chilli jam for dipping.