Put own spin on porky dishes
These creamy ham croquettes from James Villas' new cookbook, "Pig: King of the Southern Table," are great as is. But Villas also encourages cooks to experiment by adding ingredients such as olives, capers and chopped bell pepper.
The recipe itself is easy, but it does call for chilling the mixture overnight before forming it into patties. This helps the mixture thicken and hold its shape. If you're in a hurry, an hour or so (with frequent stirring) in the freezer works, too.
HAM CROQUETTES WITH PARSLEY SAUCE
For the croquettes:
• 4 tablespoons ( 1/4 stick) butter
• 3 scallions (white parts only), finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dredging
• 1 1/4 cups milk
• 4 cups coarsely chopped cooked ham
• 3 large egg yolks
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 3/4 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
• Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
• 1/2 cup bread crumbs
For the sauce:
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 cup whole milk
• Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
For the croquette coating:
• 1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
• 2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
• Peanut oil, for frying
To make the croquettes, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the scallions and flour, then whisk until soft and well blended, about 2 minutes. Whisking rapidly, add the milk. Add the ham, stir well, and remove from the heat.
Whisking rapidly, add the egg yolks and whole egg, then return to the heat. Add the mustard, sage, salt and pepper, then whisk until well blended. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Scrape the mixture into a baking dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan over low, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms. Gradually add the milk, stirring until thickened and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper and parsley, keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Place the egg beaten with water in a large, wide bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a similar bowl.
Use your hands to divide the mixture into 6 balls and roll lightly in the extra flour. Pat the balls into smooth, oval patties. Dip each into the egg wash, then dredge through the breadcrumbs.
In a large, heavy skillet over high, heat about 1 inch of oil. Fry the patties until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side, then drain briefly on paper towels. Serve the croquettes with the parsley sauce on the side.
Makes 6 servings.
Substitute whichever pasta variety you like — or even couscous — in this easy, high-flavor dish from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough's new cookbook, "Ham." Roasting the garlic and cauliflower gives both deep, rich flavors.
ORECCHIETTE WITH SAGE, ROASTED GARLIC, CAULIFLOWER AND PROSCIUTTO
• 1 head garlic, broken into unpeeled cloves
• 3 1/4 cups cauliflower florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, diced
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
• 12 ounces orecchiette pasta, cooked and drained according to the package instructions
• 2 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth, maybe a little more
• 2 to 3 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the unpeeled garlic cloves in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and roast for 20 minutes.
Toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil, then add them to the baking dish. Toss well. Continue roasting, stirring occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and the garlic cloves are soft, about 20 minutes more.
Transfer the baking dish and its vegetables to a wire rack and cool for a few minutes, just until you can handle the garlic cloves. Squeeze the soft garlic pulp out of the papery hulls and back into the baking dish. Stir in the diced prosciutto and the minced sage.
Return the pan back to the oven and continue roasting just until the prosciutto begins to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the baking dish back to the wire rack and stir in the cooked pasta, wine and cheese until the cheese melts. If the mixture is a little dry, you can add a splash or two more of the wine, just to make sure everything is moist but not soupy.
Makes 4 servings.