August 19, 2022

why it works

  • A thickened bèchamel sauce helps create croquettes with a tender and creamy interior.
  • Using Yukon Gold potatoes contributes a rich potato flavor.
  • Finely ground panko breadcrumbs help form thin, crispy, golden crusts.

Croquettes ― small fried rounds or cylinders of meat, fish and/or vegetables ― are eaten on almost all continents in various forms. There’s Japan’s korokke, which consists of mashed potatoes shaped into oval patties, coated in panko breadcrumbs and drizzled with tonkatsu sauce when fried; the teardrop-shaped Brazilian coxinha, which features a tender filling of shredded chicken; and there are the Spanish croquetas, made with a thick bèchamel sauce sprinkled with jamón, salt cod or chicken. Developing a recipe for basic potato croquettes was like a piece of cake: take mashed potatoes, toss them in breadcrumbs, and fry them until golden brown and crispy. Like many things in life, the simplest things are often the hardest. The development of this recipe turned out to be one such example.

Historically, potato croquettes (or potato croquettes in French) rely on duchess potatoes ― seasoned potatoes tossed with butter and egg yolks ― much like traditional recipes for dauphine potatoes. The new croquette recipes don’t stray too far from tradition: make mashed potatoes, add seasoning and a binder, and bread it English (a fancy term for the standard breading sequence of flour, beaten eggs, then breadcrumbs). My first attempts with Russet potatoes left a lot to be desired. I tried livening it up with cream cheese (a move that made them dense), sour cream (which just made them tangy), and different types of grated cheese (all of which broke up through breading and burnt), among other things ―none of which were successful. Taking inspiration from the Spanish croqueta, I concocted a small batch of thick dough béchamel sauce, made with a higher proportion of butter and flour, and mixed with my potatoes. When fried, this test came closest to my ideal: rich potato croquettes with soft, creamy centers.

The switch to Yukon Golds proved to be another improvement; their fuller flavor and tendency towards smoothness go well with bèchamel. To make the mash, I simply season the boiled and mashed Yukon Gold with melted butter, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper for a bit of heat (which I’ve made optional in the recipe below) , then I add the bèchamel sauce . I like my potato croquettes as is, but you can easily add spices, like cumin or paprika, for warmth and complexity, finely chopped chives or parsley for a crisp freshness, and cheese cubed―gruyere, mozzarella, or cheddar―for that gooey factor (Just be sure to place a cube or two in the center of each croquette, instead of folding shredded cheese into the mixture, to avoid rashes and burning).

Once the filling is done, you can start shaping. I call for small rounds for convenience; it’s faster than coaxing each individual spoonful into a neat cylinder, although you can certainly turn them into logs if you wish. After shaping, a trip to the refrigerator cools and firms the rounds, helping the croquettes retain their shape during the breading process. I discovered that by using finely crushed panko breadcrumbs in a food processor, you get golden and crispy croquettes.

Finished with a pinch of salt, these crispy and creamy potato croquettes are a delight when served warm as an appetizer, side dish or on their own as a late afternoon snack accompanied by wine or a cold beer. .