I could have opened up a restaurant in downtown Madrid last night. This amateur chef was firing on all cylinders. Heck, I was even firing on cylinders that I didn’t know I had.
Making croquetas has always been something that I have wanted to do – successfully. I tried it once with my dad about 20 years ago, back when I was a kid just home from a year in Spain. We failed. Miserably. The croquetas were burnt blobs. The failure scarred me and I had not tried to make them again, until last night.
Just back from India, I got a hankerin’ for something that was, well, not curry. Having recently excavated a nice chunk of frozen jamón from the freezer, I decided to put it to use in the croquetas. I used the recipe from La Tienda.com‘s website. I ended up changing the proportions quite a bit since the 1/2 lb of jamón that the recipe called for made for too meaty of croquetas. I used some smoked sweet paprika and nutmeg in the batter, just to bring out the flavors I love.
They were a huge success. Mrs. NH and Little NH gobbled them up as fast as I could make them. But I didn’t stop there.
I also wanted to try my hand at fried artichokes, just like in Barcelona’s Ciudad Condal. These always seemed like an impossible dish to make, due to the cleaning of the choke and thin cut that they needed to have. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did.
First, I pulled off the green outer leaves and then cut of the top prickly portion of the artichoke. Using a baby food spoon (thanks, Scamp!) I scooped out the fuzziest part of the inner choke, right above the heart. I then halfed it and set to running it through on the “thin” setting on my mandolin. Finally, I fried them in about 1/2 inch of olive oil and finished with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt. Wow. Two home runs in one night.
Finally, I decided that to round out this feast, we needed Little NH’s new favorite tapa – albóndigas (meatballs). We did a pork variety with a delicious sofrito from José Andrés’ “Made in Spain”. Little NH helped mix the meat and made all of the balls herself. I fried them up and added them to the sauce to simmer for a good hour until we chowed down.
Not content to do a feast of tapas half way, I opened the pack of duck jamón I had in the fridge and Mrs. NH prepared fresh pan con tomate. It was a meal that I would have been thrilled with at any Spanish tapas bar in el barrio gótico or on Cava Baja. The fact that I had it while sitting on my couch, made it all the better.