One thousand years ago, back when I was a size 0 and took it for granted, I studied abroad in Barcelona. After a disastrous month with an overprotective old señora, my program transferred me to the home of a very hip young single woman named Maria who was a hairdresser for movie sets. When not styling famous actresses, she liked to knit. I was in awe of her, and deeply appreciative of the freedom she gave me to dance all night long in Barcelona’s discos.
Cooking was not Maria’s forte, but she would have her mom come and stay with me when she had to travel on location. Her mother was an amazing cook, and I followed her around the kitchen with a tattered notebook, scribbling her recipes down in a mixture of French, Spanish, and English. Her chicken croquettes were my favorite: creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I still make them today, and they bring back memories of late nights strolling Las Ramblas.
Last week, I was in need of an easy weeknight dinner that would please the kids. My husband was on a 10-day business trip. I was flying solo and was in no mood for picky eater complaining. It was the perfect opportunity to whip up a batch of chicken croquettes with leftover roasted chicken.
Oven roasted chicken is a dish that is on most of my weekly menus. After an oddly therapeutic butter massage and a brisk sprinkle of spices, the chicken pretty much takes care of itself until dinner time, and leaves me with a carcass to whip up a batch of chicken broth and plenty of leftovers to craft another weeknight dinner. But this dish can come together just as easily with storebought roasted chicken, and that’s often cheaper than roasting your own when supermarkets lure customers in with crazy cheap prepared chicken.
To make the croquettes, chop up the leftover chicken and combine it with a veloute sauce: chicken stock that’s been thickened with a roux of butter and flour. The mixture comes together overnight in the fridge. Then you shape it into croquettes, roll it in egg and breadcrumbs and pan fry. Serve it with a chilled albarino to pretend to be having tapas in Spain, or with ketchup if, like me, you’re at home with unruly children!
- 3 cups of leftover chicken, chopped up small
- 3 cups of chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 6 tablespoons of flour
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup of bread crumbs
- Make the veloute. This mother sauce sounds much scarier than it is. It’s just stock thickened with flour. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat, add the flour and stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes, until the flour taste is cooked off. Don’t let this brown.
- Add the chicken stock all at once, stirring constantly until thickened. Once it is thickened and coats the back of your spoon, turn off the heat and set aside.
- Chop up the leftover chicken and combine it with a veloute sauce. Put in the fridge overnight to thicken and come together.
- Remove from the fridge and scoop out enough chicken mixture to fill a heaping soup spoon. Shape it into a log. Dredge in egg and then breadcrumbs and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the chicken mixture.
- In a large frying pan, heat 4 tablespoons of butter or vegetable oil on medium heat. Pan fry the chicken croquettes until nice and brown on both sides. Color is your only judge when this is done as the chicken is already cooked.
- Serve warm. If you have leftovers, store in the fridge and then reheat for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.