This is another recipe from the fantastic Silver Spoon cookbook. It is perfect for winter – carrots are in season (and very cheap) at the moment, and if it is cold and grey you want something warm and rich, preferably stuffed with melted cheese. The carrots we picked up from our local greenmarket are the largest and dirtiest carrots I have ever seen, and it was quite wonderful orchestrating their transformation into these lovely, rather delicate croquettes.
The first time I tried this recipe it took me hours and hours to make – we didn’t have a food processor so I ripped up bread by hand to make breadcrumbs, and spent forever trying to strain the carrot through a sieve. Putting things through a food processor first makes such a difference, but even after being processed, sieving the carrot is a pain (I have always ended up with a little bit at the end I just could not be bothered trying to push through the sieve). Next time I may try using a blender. That said, if you can be bothered smushing carrot through a sieve, it makes a big difference to texture.
Gruyère-Stuffed Carrot Croquettes
(From The Silver Spoon)
1kg (2 1/4 lb) carrots
40g (1.5 oz) salted butter
5 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1oog (3.5 oz) gruyère
4 tablespoons of white (plain) flour
Lots of vegetable or grapeseed oil for frying (this can be reused)
Salt and pepper
Put a large pot of water on to boil and salt well. Peel the carrots, cut off their ends and, if they are very large, half lengthwise and widthwise. Boil the carrots for 15 minutes, until soft. Drain the carrots, chop them and place in a saucepan with the butter. Cook over low heat until soft, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Put the carrots in a food processor and process until smooth. Then (if you can be bothered) press the processed carrot through a sieve into a large bowl. Add half the breadcrumbs, one egg, the parmesan, nutmeg, a good pinch of salt and plenty of pepper. Stir to combine. (You can make the carrot mixture up to a couple of days in advance and store in the fridge in an airtight container until needed).
Once the carrot mixture is made you need to set up a workspace for making the croquettes. Slice the cheese into small cubes (approx 2cm across) and set to one side. Set out three large bowls as follows: 1) One with the flour. 2) One with the remaining two eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt. 3) One with the remaining breadcrumbs.
Put a large pot of vegetable oil on to heat up. You do not want it boiling or spitting – drop a breadcrumb into it to see whether it is hot enough. If the breadcrumb immediately begins to sizzle without burning then your oil is at the right temperature.
Rather than keeping the traditional croquette shape, I rolled mine into small balls (about the size of a golf ball). Press a square of cheese into the middle of each ball. Once a ball is made, roll it in the flour, then roll in the egg, and finally roll in the breadcrumbs until evenly covered. I made up a full batch before frying them so I could serve everyone straight away.
Drop the croquettes into the hot oil. Cook until the outside is crisp and golden – 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oil with a draining spoon, and place on some kitchen paper. Pat off any excess oil and serve hot.