Mahon and Grits Croquettes with Pecan Romesco Sauce

I was going to post this recipe a while ago, but I’ve been holding off. It was recently included in the Fall 2013 issue of Culture magazine, which is all about cheese. Many of their recipes end up on their website, but this one didn’t, so I thought I’d post it here. It was exciting for me, being the first time that I’d had a recipe published in a well known magazine.

This is a great starter that blends Spanish cuisine with ingredients common in southern cooking. This dish was the inspiration for my Croquetas de Spamón and this is my base romesco which has evolved into the dueling trail mix romesco. You should get 18 croquettes from one batch. Since this recipe was published, I have changed my grits recipe (though I’m keeping the original recipe in tact here). Now I use 4:1 milk to grits, using 1 part to pre-soak them the night before, and cooking the grits in a double boiler to prevent burning. Enjoy the recipe.

Mahon Grits

Grits, course ground                         1/2 cup

Whole Milk                                         1 1/2 cups

Butter, unsalted                                  1 T

Granulated Garlic                              1/4 tsp

Aged Mahon Cheese, grated          1 1/4 cups, packed (4.5 oz)

Flour                                                    2 cups

Eggs (beaten)                                     3 each

Panko Bread Crumbs                         2 cups

Vegetable Oil                                      as needed

Pecan Romesco Sauce

Pecans, chopped                               ½  cup

Garlic, chopped                                   2 cloves

Olive Oil                                                ½  cup

Roasted Red Pepper (jarred, drained) 8 oz

Crushed Tomatoes (canned)             ½ cup

Sorghum                                             2 teaspoons

Sherry Vinegar                                   3 teaspoons

Smoked Paprika                                  2 teaspoons

Ancho Chile Powder                          ½ teaspoon

Flat Leaf Parsley                                 2 tablespoons

Serrano Ham (frozen)                          3 ounces

Procedure for the croquettes:
1. Put milk and granulated garlic in a small pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Add grits and return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. You may add up to an additional ½ cup whole milk (not listed in ingredients) if needed to maintain a creamy consistency.
3. Turn off heat and stir in cheese until melted. Refrigerate grits for 15 minutes until cool and slightly set. Roll grits into medium sized balls in the palms of your hands as you would meatballs. Cover grit croquettes and return to the fridge for 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.4. Heat oil to 350 degrees F. Get three bowls. Place flour in one, beaten eggs in the second and the panko bread crumbs in the third. One at a time place a croquette in the flour, then the egg and finally the panko.5. Place croquette in the oil and cook for 3-4 minutes until lightly golden in color.

Procedure for the romesco:

1. Place ham in the freezer. If it is already sliced, roll the slices before freezing.

2. Heat oil on medium in a medium sized pan. Add pecans and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and paprika and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat.

3. Add all ingredients to a food processor.  Blend on medium speed until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and the sauce has a slightly smooth texture.

To serve, reheat the sauce on the stove for 30 seconds. Put 2 tablespoons of romesco sauce on a plate. Place 3 croquettes on top of the sauce. Using a microplane zester, grate the frozen ham over the croquettes and sauce. It will quickly thaw when it comes in contact with the warm croquettes and sauce. Serve with a glass of Spanish Tempranillo wine.

Culture Mag 1Culture Mag 2

If you like what you see, please consider hiring me for an in-home dinner or cooking lesson. I run a personal chef business based out of Frederick, MD. Get more information here. Thank you.

Chris Spear

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