Ham Croquettes Recipe and Health Benefits

Ham Croquettes Recipe and Health Benefits

My great grandmother’s ham croquettes date back to the early 1900s. Originating in Spain, these savory bites gained popularity in many Spanish households. Croquettes became a staple dish, often made from leftover meats. Over time, my great grandmother adapted the recipe to include locally sourced ingredients, ensuring its unique flavor profile. Using readily available ham and a blend of spices, she created croquettes that became celebrated in the family.

Family Traditions

Preparing ham croquettes was a tradition cherished during family gatherings. My great grandmother taught each generation how to prepare the dish, maintaining the recipe’s authenticity. Rituals such as finely chopping the ham, preparing a thick béchamel sauce, and carefully forming and frying the croquettes became a bonding activity. These moments not only resulted in delicious food but also strengthened familial ties. Each festive occasion, whether birthdays or holidays, featured this beloved dish, symbolizing unity and heritage.

Key Ingredients of My Great Grandmother’s Ham Croquettes

Choosing the Right Ham

Selecting quality ham significantly impacts the flavor of the croquettes. Use a ham with a good balance of muscle meat and fat. Spanish serrano or American country ham works best. Make sure the ham is finely diced to blend seamlessly with other ingredients. The saltiness of the ham influences the overall taste, so choose one that matches your family’s preference.

Importance of Fresh Ingredients

Fresh ingredients ensure the croquettes have a vibrant flavor and texture. Using fresh parsley adds a bright, earthy note. Fresh eggs contribute to the binding and richness of the mixture. Onions should be chopped finely and cooked until translucent to avoid overpowering the ham’s flavor. Always use fresh bread crumbs for coating to achieve a crispy exterior.

The Preparation Process

Step-by-Step Guide

Start with dicing the ham into small pieces. Transfer the diced ham into a food processor, pulsing it until finely chopped but not pureed. In a pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, then add 1 finely chopped onion and cook until soft.

Stir in 4 tablespoons of flour, making a roux, cooking for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of milk to form a bechamel sauce. Maintain constant stirring until the sauce thickens. Add the processed ham to the sauce along with 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley, then season with salt and black pepper.

Remove the mixture from heat and let it cool for 30 minutes. Shape the cooled mixture into small logs, around 2 inches long. Dredge each log in flour, followed by beating 2 eggs and coating with breadcrumbs. Place the breaded croquettes on a tray, then chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour to set.

Heat a pot with 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350°F (175°C). Fry the croquettes in batches until golden brown, around 3 minutes each. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve warm.

Tips and Tricks from My Great Grandmother

Use cold ham for easier dicing and better texture. Sauté onions until golden for a richer flavor. Always cool the croquette mixture thoroughly before shaping; this helps in forming consistent logs without lumps.

Refrigerate the shaped croquettes to firm up before frying; it prevents them from breaking apart. For a crispier crust, double-coat the croquettes by repeating the egg and breadcrumb dip. Maintain the frying oil temperature to ensure even cooking and golden brown exterior.

Store uncooked croquettes in the freezer for up to 1 month; fry them directly from frozen, adding 1-2 minutes to the cooking time.

Nutritional Information

Health Benefits

Ham croquettes offer several health benefits when consumed in moderation. They provide a good source of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair. High-quality ham used in the recipe contains essential amino acids necessary for body functions. Onions, an integral part of the mix, offer antioxidants that help fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Parsley, often included for flavor, provides vitamins A, C, and K, contributing to eye health, collagen production, and blood clotting. Breadcrumbs add dietary fiber, aiding digestion and maintaining healthy bowel function.

Caloric Content

Understanding the caloric content of ham croquettes is crucial for managing your dietary intake. An average serving of three ham croquettes contains approximately 350 calories. This includes around 20 grams of carbohydrates, primarily from breadcrumbs, 15 grams of fat, mostly from frying oil, and 18 grams of protein from ham. Being aware of these values helps balance your meal plans according to your nutritional needs.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

Best Side Dishes

Ham croquettes pair well with various side dishes. Offer a fresh garden salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and cucumber dressed in vinaigrette for a light and refreshing option. For a comforting choice, serve creamy mashed potatoes. Roasted vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and bell peppers provide a colorful and nutritious complement. Another popular choice is a simple coleslaw made from shredded cabbage, carrots, and a tangy mayo-based dressing.

Wine Pairing Recommendations

Wine enhances the flavors of ham croquettes, and several options suit the dish perfectly. A crisp Chardonnay offers a balance of acidity and rich flavors. Sauvignon Blanc delivers herbal notes that match well with parsley in the croquettes. Rosé wine, with its fruity undertones, provides a versatile option that complements both the ham and side dishes. For those preferring red wine, a light Pinot Noir pairs seamlessly with the savory taste of the croquettes.


My great grandmother’s ham croquettes are more than just a dish; they’re a cherished family tradition that brings everyone together. By following the recipe and incorporating the tips shared, you can create a delicious meal that honors heritage and satisfies nutritional needs.

Whether you’re mindful of your calorie intake or looking for the perfect wine pairing, these croquettes offer a versatile and tasty option. Serve them with your favorite sides and enjoy a meal that’s rich in history and flavor.

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