|A lovely treat for any time of day!|
I woke up the other day in Martha’s Vineyard with a houseful of friends and a fridge full of leftovers from a week on-island. We had a little bit of everything in there: baked chicken, eggs, raw spinach and broccoli, linguiça, bread, etc. So my friends and I put together a brunch that could use up what was already in the fridge. That’s instead of contributing to the 40% of food produced in America that is wasted. According to Modern Farmer much of that waste comes from the farm, processing facilities and grocery stores, but the average European and North American consumer throws away 210 to 253 pounds annually.
My first thought was to transform that baked chicken into Spanish croquetas like the ones I’d loved from my time working at José Andrés’s Jaleo in Washington, DC. They are served hot with just a bit of crisp on the outside giving way to a creamy inside, not toothsome like a chicken nugget. Starting with the base of a thick béchamel sauce, you can fold any non-moist, cooked meats and vegetables into the batter. I’ve had them with different combinations of chicken, ham, sausage, spinach and mushroom, but they could really be delicious with any combination of simple leftovers.
|Sunny brunch out on the porch. So sunny, my eyes were completely closed for this picture!|
Sunday’s batch was somewhat of a pantry raid. I used Bisquick for missing flour and rounded up a few different bottles of milk for the sauce. Just one chicken quarter left, so I filled out the batter with the last of the linguiça. Then I made breadcrumbs from a stale slice of sourdough using a mezzaluna. If you replace everything else in this recipe, make sure to keep the breadcrumbs since they help it all keep its shape when fried. You can save a bit by frying in shallow oil, rotating to brown, then keeping them warm in the oven.
|If you use better breadcrumbs than I was able to chop together, your croquetas will be smoother.|
Chicken and Linguiça Croquetas
3/4 cup cooked chicken
1/2 cup linguiça
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup Spanish onion
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup of breadcrumbs
Olive oil for frying
Shred the chicken into small pieces and finely chop the linguiça. Set aside.
Melt butter in a medium pot. Finely chop the onion and cook in the butter until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cups of the flour and continue to stir while cooking until the flour is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk and stir continuously for about 2 minutes until you have a very thick béchamal sauce. Remove from heat.
Stir meat into sauce and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. (You might also want to add a bit of garlic powder or dried herbs to balance the flavors of your chicken and sausage.) Allow mixture to cool until a good temperature to handle.
Set out remaining flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a bit of the mixture and roll into a barrel shape about 2 inches long and 1 inch thick. Dredge each roll in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and set aside.
|Little oblong shapes are ideal. Lightly press, but do not knead to form.|
Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a frying pan to medium-hot heat. Working in small batches, fry each croqueta on each side until golden brown. Don’t walk away as it should only take seconds before each rotation. Remove to a paper towel and keep croquetas warm in the oven. Serve hot.