Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes)

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

I’ve recently decided I would really like to avoid ever being called a “great person” or a “nice person.” I’ve found that every time I hear those phrases, they are swiftly followed by an insult. You’ve heard it, right? “She’s a nice person, but…” It is the northern equivalent to the Southern “Bless her heart. [insert backhanded insult here].” So, in support of that effort, I won’t bother explaining how addicting these things are. I won’t be nice and warn you that you’ll never want to go back to the frozen variety. I won’t do it.

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

The average American will look at you sideways if you mention anything about “ham paste” or “ground ham.” It’s a concept that’s different – but very normal for Cuban food. And it’s been my experience that the average American will also love these croquettes. Been there, tested it. Trust me.  This recipe is tried and true, authentic, and delicious. For a typical Cuban lunch, grab yourself some amazingly soft rolls (or Cuban bread, if you have access to it), and make a sandwich out of these croquettes. Some people like to add ketchup or some other condiment to the sandwich. Personally, I like mine with the core ingredients: croquetas and bread.

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

I used to think these were so hard to make, or time consuming, or something! There had to be some reason even the best hispanic chefs I know kept buying the frozen croquetas, which almost always carried an unpleasant hint of freezer-burn. But no – the majority of the time spent in this recipe is just waiting for the filling to cool. Waiting. That doesn’t even count.  These could not be easier to make. They require little to no ingredients, and there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t go make them right now.

When you get done eating, let me know what you liked about them, what tweaks you made, how you made them your own. I’d love to know!

Recipe follows after the jump –>


4.7 from 3 reviews
Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
These ham croquettes are everything a croquette should be: smooth, flavorful, and delightfully crispy.
Ingredients
For the "masa" (the filling):
  • 8 oz package of diced ham
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp flaked dried parsley
  • ⅛ tsp ground cumin
  • ⅛ tsp flaked oregano
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sherry cooking wine
For breading and frying:
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • About 1.5 sleeves saltine crackers,finely ground in food processor or blender
  • 2 cups oil, for frying
Instructions
For the Filling:
  1. Grind the ham in a food processor until finely ground. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, lightly saute the butter and onion over medium high heat, about 1 minute. Lower the heat to medium low.
  3. Add in the milk and, stirring constantly, cook about 1.5 - 2 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour and seasonings.
  5. Add the flour mixture, ground ham, and the sherry to the skillet and mix until the ingredients come together as a dough. Remove from heat.
  6. Let the "masa" come to room temperature. Then, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
For breading and frying:
  1. Once the filling has been refrigerated, take about 1.5 tbsp of dough at a time and form the croquettes into long cylinders with rounded ends (makes about 15-20 croquettes).
  2. One by one, dip the croquettes in the egg, and then cover with the ground cracker crumbs.
  3. Go back and repeat step 2 for each croquette (so that each croquette has been breaded twice).
  4. Let the croquettes come to room temperature before frying.
  5. Heat the oil in a small heavy saucepan to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Fry the croquettes until golden brown. Fry in small batches, letting the oil come back to 375 degrees between batches.

 

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

 

 

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18 Responses to “Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes)”

  1. Thank u for your recipe it tastes yummy

  2. Love the taste, but have had trouble getting the recipe to come together as a dough. Too soft. Is too much milk or not enough flour? Following the recipe. Recomendations on how to make firmer after refrigerated?

    • So glad to hear you like the flavor! A couple of things could be happening here. First, the amount of water in the ham varies by the brand, so it’s possible you may have to adjust the amount of liquid in the pan. Depending on where you live, air moisture also impacts the amount of liquid:flour required. Some stoves have lower heat settings, so it’s also possible that your milk is not being cooked long enough once you pour it in the pan.

      Try these fixes…First, check that your milk fat percentage is correct. Then, try cooking your milk for an additional couple of minutes, or using a *slightly* higher heat setting to evaporate some of the moisture out before adding in the other ingredients. If, at the end, the dough is still too soft, add flour by tablespoons, until the consistency gets closer to what you want. Be careful not to make the dough too firm, though. You shouldn’t need to add any more than 3 additional tablespoons of flour. 🙂

      Let me know if I can help any more!
      -Damaris

      • TY! Will let you know, I made this recipe before and it reminded me of the one’s my grandmother would make. I’m sure it’s human error here (mine!). I’ll get it right.

  3. Hi! I accidentally bought cream Sherry instead of cooking sherry, will it make a big difference?

    • Hi Brighitte,

      Sorry that happened! I hate it when I accidentally get the wrong ingredients. Unfortunately, cream sherry is much sweeter than cooking/dry sherry – it will likely be too sweet for this recipe. If you happen to have a dry vermouth, or any other dry wines (preferably dry whites), they will sub in better than the cream sherry. If you don’t have those, but you have apple cider vinegar, sub in with half a tablespoon of vinegar and half a tablespoon of water. These won’t have quite the same effect, but since it’s only a tablespoon, they should be perfectly fine. 🙂

  4. I so agree just the Croquetas with bread for me… Always wanted to make them myself. Thanx for the recipe.

  5. This recipe is a great starting point but you need to go back to the traditional way that Cubans made croquetas from the recipes brought to the island from Spain. You are missing the secret and much needed ingredient of croquetas Cubanas – nutmeg. You should mix at least 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg into the flour. More nutmeg if you really like the taste. Also, never use garlic powder. No one in Cuba ever used garlic powder because it did not exist pre or post Castro. Use real garlic; crush the cloves before using them. Instead of butter, use real lard since traditional Cubans never use butter for cooking.

    • Hi Elena,

      Welcome to the site – thanks for your suggestions! I do agree that “ajo machucado” is the most traditional method for including the garlic (if you have a mortar and pestle, and time 😉 ). However, ajo en polvo (garlic powder) was actually a common ingredient found in some of the most famous Cuban recipe books (those printed in Cuba proper). I tend to agree that the powder is not as delicious, but I think it works well for croquetas. I love Cuban cuisine because it is all about substitution and using whatever resources you have available. 🙂

      Nutmeg is also a very traditional ingredient – sadly, I personally do not care for it in croquetas, unless you are contrasting the flavor with fresh parsley. Whenever I’ve made them with nutmeg, the flavor changes to a different style that tastes less “homey” to me, depending also on the type of nutmeg. That being said, it is definitely a variation worth trying. I do recommend also including some chopped fresh parsley if you choose to include nutmeg, and using a mild nutmeg, a Spanish variety, if you can find it. 🙂

      Thanks again!

  6. I’m planning to make an appetizer for Mother’s Day and we are having a Cuban themed dinner. I am thinking of making these. I like the idea that I can prepare these in advance. I’m wondering tho, if once I arrive at my sister in laws how I could safely reheat these? I don’t want them to be soggy and cooking them at her home won’t be an option. In the oven? How long and temp if you think that will work. Or if you have any other appetizer suggestion that may go along with our Cuban theme.

    • Hi Rhonda,
      Welcome to the HoH! A Cuban-themed dinner sounds like a great idea. When it comes to Cuban appetizers, many of the dishes are fried. In general, I suggest that anything fried be made as close to the actual event as possible. There are two ways you can approach this – either keep the food warm after frying (this will likely be crispier), or reheat.

      To keep it warm:
      You can preserve the heat and crispiness of the croquetas by moving them (after frying) onto a slightly raised wire rack over a cookie sheet. Place them in a single layer, not touching each other. Place the sheet and rack in the oven at a very low temp (~200F).

      To reheat:
      To keep them from getting too soggy after frying, lay them on a cooling rack, not touching each other. Let them cool completely. When you pack them for transport, don’t pack them too tightly, and don’t put a lid on them. When you are ready to reheat, preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Lay the croquetas on the oven rack directly (preferred) or on a cookie sheet, and bake until they are warmed through. This will take advantage of some of the remaining oil on the croquetas to make them crispy again.

      A couple of alternative Cuban appetizers:
      Here are a couple of options that you could consider that could easily be reheated in the oven: Platanos maduros fritos (https://goo.gl/4a4YbF), Yuca con mojo (https://goo.gl/Pg6M1R). Neither of these dishes are breaded, and both can be made ahead of time as well.

      Best of luck – I hope it works out!
      -Damaris

  7. What kind of ham do you think works best? With so many to choose from I would rather try a brand/type that’s been tried before instead of guessing. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Francine! Welcome to HoH! I have tried several types of ham that have worked well for me. I typically default to the small diced ham that comes vacuum sealed (such as John Morrell brand), but you can also use something like a black forest ham from the deli. Some cooks like to use a sweet ham, but I stay away from anything like honey hams for croquetas. Hope this helps!

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