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Croquettes From Around the World Part 2
Continuing our thematic journey of perfect fried bar snacks from around the world, this month’s recipe features a Belgian-style croquette. Here we use a different technique to create the filling and coating for the final croquette.
Shrimp and Wit Croquettes
These Belgian-style croquettes use a béchamel sauce flavored with shrimp and Witbier as a base. The béchamel is further thickened with Gouda cheese, egg yolks and gelatin to help bind the croquette together for breading and frying.
Makes: 60 cork-shaped croquettes
2/3 lb. medium-sized shrimp, shells on (U25–30)
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
1 orange zest
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
8 oz Allagash White or another Witbier
12 oz cream, preferably organic
1 gelatin packet/envelope, or 2-1/4 teaspoons
4 oz Witbier
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
3 pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
4 oz whole milk, preferably organic
1/4 cup Gouda cheese, wax removed and grated
3 tbsp orange juice
2 extra large egg yolks (reserving whites for coating)
2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2–3 cup breadcrumbs or panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
1–2 quart oil (rice bran, grapeseed or peanut)
Since Belgian grey shrimp aren’t available in the US, a medium-sized shrimp is a better and more flavorful choice than bay shrimp. Peel the shrimp and save the shells to create a shellfish stock, which will add more shrimp intensity to the final croquette. Devein each shrimp and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the coriander seeds. Swirl the pot around, toasting the seeds until the aroma starts to hit your nose and a few begin to pop. Pour the seeds into a small dish to cool. Add butter to the pot, tilting to help melt and distribute the butter. Next, add the shallots and sauté for 6–7 minutes until they are transparent and start to pick up a little bit of brown color. Add the orange peel, shrimp shells and bay leaf, stirring to combine and sauté for another 2 minutes, until the shells fully turn pink. Crack the coriander seeds on a cutting board with the flat edge of a knife and scrape into the pot. Deglaze the pot with the Witbier, followed by the cream. Bring this shrimp stock to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
Ready a second pot, along with a strainer. After cooking for about 20 minutes, strain the stock into the second pot, using a spatula to press on the shells to extract as much of the flavor and liquid as possible. Discard the shells and clean the first pot for a later use. Add the shrimp to the hot stock and cook over low heat for 4–5 minutes, or until just pink. Using a wire strainer, remove the shrimp and slice them in half, then into small pieces. Set them aside to cool.
While the stock is cooking, pour the gelatin and 4 ounces of Witbier into a small saucepan. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to rehydrate the gelatin; then place over low heat to melt the gel. Set aside.
Place the first pot back over a medium heat. Melt the butter with the salt and nutmeg and then add the flour, whisking together until a paste is formed. Sauté this roux for 2–3 minutes. Next, whisk in the hot shrimp stock and milk until the sauce begins to thicken and approach a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes to thicken. Add in the grated Gouda cheese, mixing as it melts into the sauce. Stir in the orange juice, mixing well, then add the egg yolks and melted gelatin, whisking until they’re fully incorporated. Add the cooked shrimp with a few pinches of salt and stir to combine.
Using a spatula, pour and scrape the sauce into a 9-by-9-inch cake pan lined with plastic wrap. Top with another sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to two days in advance, letting the mixture cool completely to set.
Place the flour and salt in a wide-rimmed bowl and set first in a row. In a second small bowl, whisk together the egg whites and salt until foamy, but not whipped. In a third bowl, add the breadcrumbs.
About 30 minutes before making the croquettes, place the pan filled with the shrimp and Wit mixture into the freezer to chill. Then, remove the plastic wrap and, on a lightly floured surface, invert the pan. Using a long knife (dipped in a pitcher of hot tap water) cut the large square into 12 rows 3/4 inch wide and five rows about 1-1/2 inches wide. Lightly roll each rectangle between your palms to make a cylinder and place into the flour bowl, evenly coating all sides. Carefully toss between your fingers to remove any extra flour, and dunk into the egg whites. Then toss into the breadcrumbs, lightly pressing each croquette into them to create an even crust on all sides.
Fully coating the croquettes in all three layers is key for this style, as the béchamel filling will melt and be encapsulated by the coating, which will hold the liquid inside. Place onto a sheet tray and repeat with the remaining pieces. Once finished, cover the sheet tray with plastic wrap and place it into either the refrigerator (if using in the next day or two) or the freezer, freezing the croquettes overnight and then transferring them to a sealable freezer bag. Frozen croquettes will keep for three months.
To cook: In a fryer or wide pot, heat oil to 360°F. Fry four croquettes at a time to prevent the oil’s temperature from dropping too low and yielding a greasier finished croquette. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a skimmer and place onto a wire rack over a lined sheet tray or a plate covered with paper towels to remove as much oil as possible. Season with a pinch of salt. Serve immediately or keep the croquettes warm in a 250°F oven while continuing to fry in sets of four.
To plate: This style of croquette is traditionally served with a wedge of lemon. I prefer to pair them with a Lambic or an American Sour, letting the beer’s acidity cut the richness of the fried croquette. While these are great plain, a scoop of Mango Chutney Aioli Dipping Sauce produces a wonderful extension of the flavors already found in the croquettes.
Mango Chutney Aioli Dipping Sauce
This sauce is perfect with the Shrimp and Wit Croquettes. Sweet mango and spicy ginger pair with the shrimp, orange and coriander flavors, enhancing each element.
Makes: just over a pint
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup mango chutney*
2 tbsp beer, such as a Saison, Witbier, Golden Strong or Lambic
1 tbsp olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor, add the mayonnaise, yogurt and mango chutney. Puree until the chutney is fully incorporated, then drizzle the beer into the sauce, followed by the olive oil. Add salt or pepper to taste. Transfer the finished sauce to a sealable jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
If mango isn’t your thing, heat the tablespoon of oil over low heat and add 1 teaspoon of curry powder, letting it cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Drizzle this in with the mayonnaise and yogurt.
*Store bought mango chutney varies greatly in flavor. Some are sweet while others are hot and spicy. Either can work in this recipe. If the spice is too much, add a tablespoon of honey or barley malt syrup to counteract the heat. ■