Ham Croquetas

Croquetas (croquettes) are the main appetizer for Cubans and Cuban Americans. The most popular ones are the ham croquetas. Croquetas are served at birthday parties, weddings, and other special events. You can eat them at any time of the day, and many like to enjoy them with a Cuban coffee or a café con leche. You find croquetas in all of the Cuban restaurants in Miami and other Cuban restaurants around the nation.

“The origin of croquettes actually comes from France, and the reason why they were created is because back in the 17th century there was an abundance of flour, plus, in important places, every day there were tons of leftovers…so they decided to combine them and create a dish called croquettes out of it. The croquettes of Spain are prepared differently and have serrano ham.

Obviously, the Spaniards who migrated to Cuba brought their recipe with them, but eventually the Cubans created their own unique one.

Here is a classic Cuban recipe.


½ stick salted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk, scalded

3 cups finely chopped cooked ham

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 teaspoons fresh lime juice, plus extra for sprinkling

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

2 cups very fine bread crumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:                                                       

In a large skillet over low heat, melt the butter. When it begins to foam, blend in the flour, then gradually whisk in the milk until the mixture thickens into a smooth paste. Do not overcook or it will get lumpy. Add the ham, salt, pepper, nutmeg, lime juice, and parsley, and continue cooking over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat.

Spoon the mixture into a pan or platter and let it cool thoroughly. After it has reached room temperature it can be refrigerated,

Sprinkle a light layer of bread crumbs on a work surface. Scoop up 1 tablespoon of the cooled ham mixture and shape it into a cylinder about 1 ½ inches long and ¾ inch in diameter. Dip it in the beaten egg and then in the crumbs, and repeat with the remaining mixture, renewing the crumbs when necessary. The recipe can be prepared to this point one day ahead of time and refrigerated overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250° F. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or deep fryer over medium-high heat, heat 2 to 3 inches of oil to 375° F, or until a drop of the mixture sizzles when it touches the oil, and fry 5 to 6 croquettes at a time until golden on all sides, turning with a slotted spoon. Do not fry too many at once, or the oil temperature will fall and they will be soggy rather than crisp. Transfer them to a paper-towel-lined platter to drain, keep warm in the oven until you have finished frying the rest, and serve sprinkled with fresh lime juice.

The traditional way to enjoy croquetas is with salted crackers.

Buen provecho.

One Comment Add yours

  1. FrenchCuban says:

    Cuban had a French which brought might at the late part of the 18th and early 19th from France, Haiti after the Slave revolt and even Louisiana US with the Louisiana Pact, French families fled Louisana to Cuba and founded a city called Cienfuego. Lots of Cubans have French roots, and claim French ancestry to the way Cubans make their coffee to their croquettes to the their Danzon are legacy of their French ancestry.


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