“Una vez al año no hace daño” goes the saying (it’s not harmful just once a year), and this applies so well to Croquetas de Pollo (Chicken Croquettes). But nature, fickle and unpredictable, did not make this a fair rule for everyone.
Let me tell you about somebody I know. We’ll call him P.
P. was my workmate for many years. One of the nicest, most patient, honest people I have ever met, but this is not what I want to tell you about. Let’s talk about P’s metabolism, which I have envied ever since we met.
Every day he would stop at a neighborhood comedor on his way to work and gulf down a most opiparous breakfast consisting of mondongo, or spaghetti, and even chicharrones. Each of these pack enough calories to sustain an endurance athlete through rigorous training. P. isn’t an athlete. I am not even sure that he has ever played any sport.
One would expect that he’d be very overweight. Obese even. Amazingly he was what you’d call lanky, a tall skinny guy that look like he sustained himself of casabe and water. More than a decade later, he’s still every bit as skinny. And I am every bit as envious of his amazing metabolism as I was in those days. Don’t we all know someone like that?
I, on the other hand, seem to gain weight simply from smelling food. Truth be told, I love food, but if I don’t keep a close eye on my intake my weight would balloon uncontrollably in no time. The mere idea of a mondongo breakfast gives me chest pain. I cannot indulge nearly as much as I wish I could.
Croquetas is truly one of those dishes I can only have once a year. Sadly so, because the contrast between its crispy crust, and the melt-in your mouth creaminess of these croquettes is the thing I dream of. I save them for Christmas.
Alas, una vez al año it is.
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of boneless chicken
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 medium white onion, grated or cut into very small cubes
- ½ cup of flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 teaspoon of parsley finely chopped
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons of flour (for dusting)
- 2 cups of fine bread crumbs
- 4 cups of vegetable oil for deep frying (canola, corn or soy)
- Boil the chicken in 5 cups of water to which you added the onion, garlic, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt (set aside the rest of the salt).
- Simmer until chicken is cooked through and flaking, add more water if it becomes necessary.
- Remove chicken from the water and cool to room temperature.
- Shred the chicken meat.
- Heat the butter in a skillet over low heat. Stir in onion and cook until it becomes transparent.
- Add the flour and stir vigorously until everything is well mixed, be careful to not to let it burn.
- Add the milk and remaining salt and stir until it is well mixed.
- Add the chicken and the parsley and stir until the mixture thickens enough to start lifting from the bottom.
- Cool to room temperature. Chill for a couple of hours.
- In a separate bowl stir the eggs and set aside.
- Put two tablespoons of the flour and chicken mixture on the palm of your hands and mould into cork shapes, if the dough sticks to your hands, cover your hands with flour.
- Dust the croquettes with flour, Bathe in the eggs, then cover with the breadcrumbs. Repeat until you use all the chicken mix.
- Chill for another three hours (best if overnight).
- Heat oil over medium heat in a small deep pot (there should be enough depth to cover the croquettes). Fry the croquettes until they turn golden brown.
- Rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.