Remember croquette potatoes? I used to love them when I was a kid and my dad used to fish them out of the freezer once a week to go with a steak. They felt like a bit of a treat and then, when I started working in a pub kitchen during school
holidays, I realised potato croquettes were a bog-standard frozen item that was on every pub and restaurant menu in the country. During the late Seventies, croquettes finally became fashionable – though I always wondered: why were they covered in orange breadcrumbs? Made well (and without colouring), they can be delicious, and I think they deserve another revival. Spanish croquetas look similar but are made with a thick béchamel sauce instead of mashed potato, with ham and cheese folded in.
Classic croquettes are made from simple mashed potato, but I thought I would dabble a bit and create a parsnip-flavoured version for the festive celebrations.
Make sure your mashed potato and parsnip are really dry; you can do this by returning them to the heat in a pan, once you have drained them, to evaporate the excess water.
300g floury potatoes, cooked and mashed
300g cooked and mashed parsnips
2 small eggs, beaten
50-60g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g hazelnuts, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Mix the parsnip and potato together and season. Mould the mix into cylinder shapes about 4-5cm long and a little fatter than a wine cork.
Mix the hazelnuts and breadcrumbs together. Have the flour ready in a dish and carefully roll them in it, holding them lightly with your fingers and shaking off any excess. Next, roll them in the beaten egg, and finally roll them in the breadcrumb mixture.
Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep fryer.
Fry the croquettes a few pieces at a time for 3-4 minutes until golden and drain on some kitchen paper.