Chicken croquettes

October 22, 2008

Sometimes Jamie hungers for home – literally.

While her parents and siblings live here in North Carolina, the rest of Jamie’s family resides in southeastern Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised. Although she is quite taken with Southern foods, from barbecue and grits to collard greens and sweet tea, on occasion she misses hoagies, true Philadelphia cheesesteaks and her grandmother’s Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast cakes.

Lately, she’s been craving her Aunt Jayne’s chicken croquettes, which were the best she’d ever tasted, but since we’ve already made our trip north for the year, she figured it would be a while until she had them again.

Lucky for Jamie, Jerry loves a challenge, so he set out to recreate Aunt Jayne’s recipe, with his own twists of course, including the addition of a mushroom sauce (Aunt Jayne serves her croquettes with a chicken gravy, but the mushroom sauce is actually a perfect match). The resulting recipe is relatively easy, though labor intensive. But Jamie assures you it’s well worth it. In fact, she now says these are the best chicken croquettes she’s ever tasted (sorry, Aunt Jayne).

While this recipe starts from scratch, it also is a great way to use leftover chicken. If you choose that option, start with the bechamel sauce, and go from there.


Chicken croquettes

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Chicken stock (or canned chicken broth)

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.

Season both sides of each chicken breast with onion and garlic powders, cayenne, salt, pepper and thyme. Lightly brown the chicken in the olive oil, approximately 3 minutes per side. Add chicken stock until the chicken is just covered. Bring stock to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool in the broth until the chicken is cool enough to handle. (If desired, put the pan in the refrigerator or freezer to speed up this process.)

Bechamel sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon minced shallots

½ cup finely chopped red onion

Salt

Pepper

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for approximately 1 minute to form a roux. Add the shallots, red onion and a pinch each of the salt and pepper. Cook the shallots and onion in the roux for approximately three minutes, stirring to coat. Add the chicken stock and cream, and allow the sauce to thicken. When the sauce begins to bubble, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

To assemble croquettes:

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Salt

Pepper

Vegetable oil

1 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 ½ cups bread crumbs

Remove chicken from stock (see note). Chop the chicken into small pieces and add to the saute pan with the cooled bechamel sauce. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cool mixture in refrigerator (one hour) or freezer (20 to 30 minutes).

Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer set to 350 degrees. Place flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs in separate small bowls.

Remove chicken mixture from the refrigerator or freezer, and form into balls approximately 2 inches in diameter. Dredge each croquette in flour, then beaten eggs, then bread crumbs. Fry the croquettes in vegetable oil until golden brown, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.

Serve topped with mushroom sauce (recipe follows). We recommend mashed potatoes as a side.

Note: Reserve chicken stock for use in the mushroom sauce, if desired.

Mushroom sauce

3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3 cups sliced button mushrooms

Salt

Pepper

1 ½ cups chicken stock

1 ½ tablespoons flour

1 cup heavy cream

In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and saute for approximately 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add the chicken stock. Cook until stock reduces by half, approximately 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for approximately 1 minute to form a roux. Remove from heat.

When stock has reduced, add the roux to the saute pan, along with the heavy cream. Stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for approximately 5 minutes to allow sauce to thicken.

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