Throwing away food is a crime. The rich minority of the world expects their tomatoes to be perfectly round and red, immaculate carrots, zucchinis, aubergines… all our fruit must look like it came out of a food magazine. The ugly vegetables get thrown away, together with tons of food that runs out of date both in the supermarkets and at home.
When legislation on food is there to protect us, there are some things that hace been taken too far. Recently we started having expiration dates on eggs for God’s sake! If an egg is bad, you will know. A bad egg stinks to the point of making you sick. I have known people to throw away perfectly fine eggs just because they were 3 days overdue. I have eaten the equivalent to a gallon of out of date yogurt while growing up. I am here, I am fine, I have no allergies and I have a strong stomach. Please don’t go around now thinking that it is ok to eat rotten food, but we should definitely reexamine our standards and be better at managing our supplies.
Back in the day, no food turned to waste, we just couldn’t afford it and so, many recipes were born out of women’s creativity to turn leftovers into a meal. One the most famous recipes in Spain for this, is Croquetas. They are small balls of bechamel, white sauce if you prefer, cooked with whatever had been leftover from a bigger meal. It could be scraps of cured ham, maybe cod crumbles, maybe chicken from a broth… It is quite a messy recipe, it does make your kitchen dirty and it takes a bit of patience. On top of this, they are not healthy food at all. They are fried and breaded so I will not go around recommending them for people that want to lose weight but they are absolutely delicious and as such, I thought I would share with you this lovely recipe so you can make it for your friends and celebrations.
They good thing is that they can be prepared in advance, frozen and once you make them, you will have plenty for a while.
Ingredients (makes 25)
2 tbsp. plain flour
1 litre of full fat milk
25 gr. of butter
1 small onion
125 gr. mushrooms
1 cup of breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
Peel and chop the onion very finely, fry in low heat with a small amount of olive oil until they turn transparent. Add the clean sliced mushrooms and salt. Let cook until they loose most of the water in them. Then add the butter, let it melt and add the four and toast it until it looks golden brown.
It is now time to start adding your milk, little my little, about half a glass of milk each time and in between, do no stop stirring the mixture so it starts blending like a normal bechamel. Every time it starts to dry out, add more milk. You want to do that until you run out of milk, correct the salt level and keep stirring until the bechamel is thick enough and doesn’t stick to the pan any more. It can take up to 30 minutes of continuous stirring, so it is pretty labour intense.
Once the sauce is done, pour it on a large plate or tray and cover with transparent film making sure it doesn’t leave any pockets of air between the film and the mixture, this is in order to avoid a “skin” from forming on top of it.
Let it cool down completely, even overnight.
In a bowl, beat up the egg and in another bowl pour the breadcrumbs, then take the film of the mixture and with a spoon, start making balls of around 2 to 3 centimetre diameter. It will be easier to do it you oil your hands before to stop them from sticking to your hands. Once you are happy with the ball roll it in egg, then in breadcrumbs and then keep aside. Once you are done with all the croquetas you can fry them or keep them for later in the fridge for about 5 or 6 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
To fry them, you have to either use a frier or a small pan with enough oil to cover the balls up to the middle (about 2 to 3 fingers of oil). The oil needs to be very hot and they need to be fried in small batches to keep the oil temperature up and so they are not too close together, since they could break.
You only need to fry them for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side, until they are golden brown.