A city in Europe that always caught my interest was Amsterdam. I liked that the Dutch had a historical tie to Canada from WWII, that the Dutch were tolerant and a diverse society, many spoke English and the sheer green beauty of the countryside and the gorgeous canals and steepled buildings of its cities, like Amsterdam. My first visit to Amsterdam was in 1990 and I have fond memories of the walking through the city, drinking my way through the pubs and bruine cafes.
Foodwise, I remember the fries and mayo offered by streetcarts, downing smoked herring with Jenever chasers, fanstasic shawarma shops near Dam Square and the Indonesian dishes like Rijsttafel. One of the more peculiar food offerings were the fast food offerings found in large vending machines that were found on many Amsterdam streets with warm snacks in these coin operated vending machines (funny, read an article about the Automats in the US).
After late night of beers, one gets hungry and these wall-sized vending machines would tempt you with snacks, the most famous one being the Dutch Kroketten (croquette). To this day, these croquettes have been my favourite and I’ve long wanted to try my hand at Almost Bourdain’s rendition. The day has come.
The neat thing about these croquettes is that the main binding ingredient is a thick Bechamel that holds up well to frying and the recipe is adaptable to making your own twists. Stick the ratio and you’ll be making an array of croquettes limited only by your imagination.
Today’s twist is Feta & Leek croquettes. Leeks are in season, relative to the onion and a delight with good, crumbled Greek Feta cheese. I’ve added some dried Greek oregano and some chopped parsley for colour and coated in flour, eggwash and some breadcrumbs.
The key to successful croquette is to allow the bechamel cool before mixing your favoured ingredient (for flavour) and then mixing and chilling then coating and chilling and finally frying your croquettes. A little patience but otherwise and easy recipe offering best croquettes.
Feta & Leek Croquettes (πρασσοκροκέτες)
(makes about dozen croquettes or 20 balls)
For the Bechamel
3 Tbsp. of butter
3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup of warm milk
pinch of salt
bit of grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 cup blanched or slow-cooked leeks (or scallions)
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
approx. 1 cup all-purpose flour
approx. 2 cups of fine bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
- Add your butter into a small pot over medium heat and once it melts, add the flour and stir in with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring for couple of minutes then add the milk in increments – add milk, stir in, add milk and stir in until you’ve attained thick Bechamel. Add a pinch of salt, stir in and take off the heat and empty into a large bowl to cool.
- In the meantime, add some olive oil into skillet and sweat your leeks for about 5-6 minutes or until translucent. Allow to cool and into the bowl with the Bechamel. Add the leeks, Feta, oregano, black pepper into the bowl and mix well with a spatula. Cover and place in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours.
- Prepare your dipping stations – a plate with all-purpose flour, the other with the eggwash and the third plate with breadcrumbs. Take the bowl out the fridge and form the mixture into little logs or balls with your hands (rub your hands with oil if sticky).
- Dredge in flour followed by the eggwash then a coating of breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining mixture and place on a large platter, cover and place in the fridge again for another 30-40 minutes.
- Pour about 2 inches of oil in deep pot or deep fryer and heat to 360F. Carefully place 3-4 croquettes in the hot oil and fry for about 4 minutes. Place on paper-lined platter and fry remaining batches (you may want to reserve in a warm 200F oven).
- Serve warm with an Ouzo or Tsipouro.
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