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How to Make Potato Croquettes
What are Potato Croquettes?
Potato croquettes are simply an attractive, alternative way of preparing a potato accompaniment for a main meal. Just like French fries or boiled potatoes, they can be served with meat, fish, or even a fairly simple salad. The potato is firstly boiled and mashed before it is shaped, cooled, rolled in golden breadcrumbs and deep fried. The procedure is very similar to the ways in which fish cakes or crab cakes are made. The recipe here is for basic potato croquettes but there are any number of additions which can be made to the mash to provide extra flavour and texture.
Boiling and Mashing the Potatoes for Croquettes
Begin by ensuring you choose a suitable type of potatoes
The first step to making potato croquettes is ensuring you choose a suitable type of potato. Although the potatoes available will vary by geographical location, what is important is that you choose starchy/floury potatoes and not a waxy potato. Ask for advice in your supermarket or store if you are unsure of which type to buy. Getting this right is imperative, as waxy potatoes cannot be properly mashed and will instead simply crush in to small lumps, making it impossible to shape the basic croquettes.
Half a pound of potatoes (gross weight) will make six decent sized croquettes. Begin by peeling the potatoes and chopping them in to one inch chunks. Put them in a deep pot of salted water and put the pot on a high heat until the water begins to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around twenty minutes until the potatoes have softened.
Drain the potatoes through a colander or large sieve and return them to the empty pot. It is important not to mash them straight away or you will get mash that is fairly soggy. Instead, leave them to steam for five minutes. The steam represents excess moisture still in the potatoes and releasing this will provide infinitely better final results.
Add just a little butter to the still hot potatoes and mash with a hand masher.
A Hand Masher is Essential for Making Mashed Potatoes - Anything else does not produce the desired effect
It is vital to know that when mashing potatoes to make potato croquettes, a hand masher should always be used. If you use a blender or food processor, you will be left with pureed potatoes which are not so easily shaped in to croquettes because they are wet and mushy.
Shaping the Mashed Potato in to Croquettes
A little practice is all that's required
When the potatoes are mashed, it is time to shape them in to what will become the main bodies of the croquettes. This is done by a process called quenelling. It involves taking two identical spoons and using the spoons to shape the potatoes in to approximate oval shapes. In this instance, dessert spoons were used but tablespoons could be used to create larger croquettes.
How to Quenelle - A simple guide to this food shaping technique
Describing the process of quenelling in words is not so easy but this very short video shows the process in a precise and simple fashion.
When you have quenelled each soon to be croquette to your satisfaction, lay it in a large plastic dish. Very carefully, put one spoon at each end of each croquette and gently squeeze to make more cylindrical shapes. Put the dish in to the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up the structure of the croquettes.
What is your favourite way of cooking and serving potatoes as part of a main meal?
Breading and Deep Frying the Potato Croquettes
The final stage in the procedure
Homemade breadcrumbs could be used for making potato croquettes but these supermarket bought golden breadcrumbs usually produce a more attractive and professional looking finish. Scatter around three tablespoons of them on a plate and beat a large egg in a bowl or deep bottomed plate. Dip each croquette firstly in the egg before rolling in the breadcrumbs.
The croquettes should be deep fried at a fairly high temperature (350F/180C) for four to five minutes until beautifully golden brown. They should then be drained on kitchen paper prior to plating and service.