Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tex-Mex Meat and Cheese Croquettes

My Venture into Croquettes

Ah, croquettes. Another culinary gift from the French to the rest of the world. Commonly, croquettes are filled with mashed potatoes or minced meat then dipped in eggs and bread crumbs and deep-fried to golden perfection. They're crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. You know, kind of like those big beetles they eat in parts of Asia. {{shuddering}} I've eaten variations of croquettes in several countries but my favorite are the potato croquettes sold in the food courts at department stores in Japan and Korea. I've always wondered why croquettes are not popular in the U.S. I mean Americans seem to live on fried foods. After all, can you name any fair foods that aren't fried – as sickening as that may be? How many fast food restaurants can you name that do not have at least one item that's deep-fried? This is a country that deep fries Twinkies, Oreos, and pickles. This is a country that takes deep frying to a whole new level when it deep fries butter. Yes…butter. Yes, here in America, we deep-fry our fat. {{shuddering again}}

Compared to deep-fried butter, this recipe is downright healthy. Compared to a salad, not so much. My inspiration for this recipe actually comes from Brazilian-style croquettes, which are normally made with beef. However, I wanted to use ingredients that Americans might enjoy. Could I do it? I'll let you decide.

First, I had to decide on a filling. My first idea was to use a filling similar to what's used in potstickers then I decided against it because I thought it lacked universal appeal. I then narrowed my ideas down to two options: 1) A filling made with beef, taco seasoning, and cheese, or 2) a filling made with Italian sausage, Italian seasonings, a little pizza sauce, and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. They both sounded good (at least, to me). These, of course, would be dipped in egg and bread crumbs and deep-fried. Ultimately, I flipped a coin and went with Option 1. I still think the Italian-inspired Option 2 sounds good and maybe I'll try making it for myself sometime.

I know this is a strange recipe but I like weird foods! I think they're tasty. They're not something I would make routinely but they're nasty nevertheless. If you'd like me to experiment with the Italian option, leave a comment and let me know. If I get enough requests, maybe I'll post that option sometime. In the meantime, fix these and let me know what you think. Enjoy – and happy croquetting!

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Tex-Mex Meat and Cheese Croquettes
(Printable Version)

1/2 c milk
3 1/2 TBSP flour
1 packet taco seasoning (1 oz to 1.25 oz)
1 TBSP oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb hamburger
Salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt if your taco seasoning contains salt)
4 scallions, finely chopped
Additional salt and pepper to taste
1 c freshly grated cheese (pepper jack, monterrey jack, cheddar, etc)
5 egg whites, beaten
2 c panko bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Whisk the milk, flour, and taco seasoning together in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat a skillet over medium heat with the oil. When hot, add the onion and cook 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the hamburger and a little salt and pepper. Brown and drain very well. Add the meat to a food processor and whiz for a few seconds. Scrape down the bowl and repeat until the meat is finely ground.

Return the meat to the skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the scallions. Stir the flour mixture one more time and add it to the meat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every minute or so. The mixture should be quite thick. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool then place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Add the cheese to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Use a cookie scoop to get enough meat to form a small meatball. Bigger is NOT better here. If you get the meatballs too big, the interior will not get hot before the croquette browns. Roll the meatballs between your palms as you would went making meatballs to ensure the meatballs are round and the outside is smooth. Place the meatballs on wax paper.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the panko bread crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate. Add a meatball to the egg whites and coat. Transfer to the bread crumbs and coat. Add a second layer of egg whites and bread crumbs – knocking off any excess. Set the croquette on a wax-paper lined sheet pan and repeat this process until you have used up all of the meat. Place the meatballs in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow the coating to set. This step is important so don't skip it.

Preheat about 3" of oil in a pot – making sure not to add oil more than halfway up the pot. Heat the oil to 340F (the croquettes fry too quickly at higher temperatures). Fry a few croquettes at a time until they are golden brown – making sure not to overcrowd the oil. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve piping hot with your favorite dipping sauce.


  1. Hey blog buddies! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

  2. These look and sound delicious!! I would love to see the Italian version too! I just might have to make these this weekend. :)

  3. I just recently came across croquettes (but I think the spelling may have been with a "k"?) at our local beach hut! A friend was trying to describe them to me and had me completley turned me off at "meat paste" LOL I'm so glad you've posted this recipe and I'd love to give them a try!

    Thanks Vince!

  4. Your filling is very similar to what I put into my baked empanadas! mm mm good :)


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