California Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Caramelised Pear Croquetas
These little balls of pleasure could be one of the most comforting dishes of all time. They can be prepared in advance, and they make the greatest starter for any party with family and friends. Croquetas come in all different flavours but the combination of the salty cheese, the sweet pear and the nutty walnuts it’s a match made in heaven!
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BECHAMEL
- 60 g butter
- 1 pear Conference preferably, 1 cm dices
- 1 small shallot finely chopped
- 60 g California Walnuts in quarters
- 1 pinch white pepper powder
- 1 pinch nutmeg powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 70 g plain flour
- 500 ml whole milk
- 30 g blue cheese crumbled
INGREDIENTS FOR THE COATING
- 50 g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 100 g California Walnuts coarsely ground
- 100 g panko breadcrumbs
- 600 ml sunflower oil for frying
- Place a medium size saucepan over medium heat and add the butter and the pear. Let the pear caramelise while stirring for 3 minutes before adding the shallots and continue to fry for 5 minutes. Add the California Walnuts and fry for a further 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- Add the white pepper powder, nutmeg, salt and flour and stir constantly for 4 minutes until the flour and spices have toast slightly. Bring down the heat to its lowest setting and start pouring the milk a little at a time while vigorously stirring it into the flour, forming a thick roux. Slowly as you add milk a bechamel will start to form and by the time you finish adding the milk you should have achieved a creamier bechamel.
- Keep stirring every couple of minutes for the next 3 minutes making sure all lumps are dissolved and the bechamel doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Turn off the heat and let it cool down for 15 minutes before stirring in the blue cheese.
- Line a plastic container with cling film and pour the bechamel. Cover the top with cling film so it doesn’t create a dry skin. Let it cool down in the fridge for at least 4 hours but ideally overnight.
- To roll the croquetas, dust some flour over the work top. Remove the cling film and tip the bechamel over the flour, so it doesn’t stick to the worktop. Remove the bottom cling film and dust more flour over the top. With the help of a chef knife cut the bechamel into 4 trips and then perpendicularly cut it into about 2cm cubes. Dust your hands and in between them roll each croqueta into a perfect ball.
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Over an oven tray mix the breadcrumbs and the ground California Walnuts. Then place a clean tray by the side where we will place the rolled croquetas. Now we need to prepare ourselves to get messy and work in a production line. Place 7 croquetas into your egg and toss them so they are fully coated, remove them carefully with your hands and roll them over the breadcrumbs and California Walnuts until again, they get completely coated. Place them on the clean tray and repeat the operation until you finished with your bechamel.
- On a small saucepan over medium heat pour the sunflower oil and wait until it reaches 180 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a thermometer add a small breadcrumb into the oil and whenever floats and starts frying instantly that means your oil is hot enough. With the help of a slotted spoon submerge one croqueta at a time. Do batches of 6 maximum and fry them for about 90 seconds until golden and crispy. Remove them from the oil with the same slotted spoon and place them over some kitchen paper to absorb any oil.
- Present them on a plate or bowl with some grated California Walnuts over the top and enjoy!