First off, get yourself all prepared. So that’s cleaning and dicing the mushrooms and garlic and then assembling the different ingredients you are going to use. Depending on what breadcrumbs you are going to use and whether you have some of these already prepared you might need to blend these as well. 3+ day old bread is perfect and you’ll want to blend this into a nice fine crumb. If you don’t have any old bread lying around then you can always lightly toast some and then blend. When it comes to chopping the mushrooms we tend to err on the side of larger chunks as we like some texture to our croquetas when we bite in to them.
Now you’re ready to start cooking and the first thing to start with is the bechamel so that it can cool down whilst you move on to the mushrooms. When it’s cooler, the bechamel has more body to it and is better at binding and holding everything together. In a large saucepan melt the butter on a high temperature. Once melted, reduce the heat to medium and start adding the flour bit by bit, stirring as you do so that the flour and butter come together. The best thing to use for this is a whisk and what you should end up with is little grains or balls.
Once you’ve mixed the butter and flour together you can now add the milk, again bit by bit whilst stirring. This time you’re aiming for a smooth consistant sauce without any of the floury lumps, and be prepared for some serious whisking as this does take quite a bit of wrist work! Do err on the side of caution with the amount of milk you add as you don’t want the sauce to be too liquid. The consistency needs to be thick so that when you make your croquetas they hold their shape. Once you’re happy with the sauce, add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of ground nutmeg and taste. Then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
With the bechamel prepared, next it’s time to cook the mushrooms. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan on a high heat. Mix the mushrooms and garlic together in a bowl and when the oil is hot add them to the pan. As the mushrooms start to sweat add 2 teaspoons of salt. After all the water has evaporated from the mixture, turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until golden and the mushrooms are giving off a nice sweet aroma.
Remove the mushroom mixture and place in a large mixing bowl. Start by adding about 5 tablespoons of the bechamel and then using your hands mix everything together. This is the key part to the recipe, achieving a mixture that is not too much bechamel and not too liquid with a good texture. Just keep thinking – more filling than bechamel!
Now the fun part – making your croquetas! First line up 3 bowls: 1 with the flour, 1 with the beaten egg and 1 for the breadcrumbs. Take a dessert spoon of your mixture and roll it in your hands into the shape of cylinder. Then in the following order dust with flour, dip into the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Repeat until you’ve used all your mixture.
When you’ve got all your croquetas lined up ready to be cooked, add olive oil to your frying pan. You want enough oil so that at least half a croqueta is covered. When the oil is very hot (bubbling) add your croquetas one at a time and cook, turning as you do, until the breadcrumb is golden. They won’t need long though, only a few minutes, as all the mixture is already cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen towel to soak up some of the excess oil and then serve whilst they are nice and hot!