At the risk of taking you back to the 80’s, let me introduce you to my mum’s croquettes – meat stuffed crepes, twice cooked. These are one of the party food staples that were always served at family gatherings and celebrations in our house. They are excellent accompanied by hot beetroot borscht or any other clear soup. And seeing as it’s party season, I am going back to my roots and serving these up to my guests too.
These are not the croquettes you are likely to be familiar with – there are no potatoes in sight. Instead, minced cooked meat, seasoned with herbs and laced with onion and garlic, is stuffed inside crepes. The pancakes are then closed and rolled before being coated in egg and dried breadcrumbs. Then they’re fried. Perfectly portable when cut in half, they make excellent canapés when sliced. With cups of hot borscht spiked with fresh parsley and pinch of black pepper, they are very good as a little pick me up during the evening or in the early hours of the morning.
I will admit croquettes do take time to make but they can be made ahead of time and fried just before serving. Dare I also say, you could try to finish them off early and store the prepared croquettes in the fridge, ready to be reheated in the oven. I am giving you the complete recipe here but you could always use ready made crepes if you are really pushed for time. And did I mention these are a brilliant way of using up any left over roasts from your festive table? Here then is the recipe:
For the filling:
- 1 kg cooked meat (I am using beef here)
- 4 banana shallots
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp of marjoram
- 2 tbsp of sweet paprika
- 1/2 cup of tomato ketchup
- salt and pepper to taste
For the pancakes:
- 250 grams of plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- oil for the frying pan
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 150 grams of dried breadcrumbs
- fresh parsley to serve
Begin by mincing the meat, onions and garlic. You could try chopping them finely if mincing is not an option but the texture will be a lot coarser. Once minced, place the meat, onions and garlic in a large frying pan. Turn the heat on and add the rest of the ingredients for the filling. Gently mix it together and fry the filling for 15 minutes until golden brown with few crispy bits in between. Remove from the pan into a bowl and set aside to cool.
In the meantime, make the pancakes. Begin by whisking all of the ingredients together until smooth. Once mixed, you should have a thin, runny batter which will be easy to swirl around the hot pan.
Place a large frying pan onto the heat and using a piece of kitchen roll dipped in oil, wipe the inside of the pan. This ensures only a minimal amount of oil is in the pan. Pour some of the batter into the frying pan and swiftly swirl it around so that the whole surface is covered. Cook the pancake until the edges start to come away from the pan. This will take couple of minutes. Flip the pancake over and fry it on the other side until just lightly golden. You want to cook the crepes until just set since they need to remain soft for ease of shaping and will be cooked again. Remove from the pan and set aside. Continue until all of the batter is used up – you should end up with 10 crepes, depending on the size of your frying pan. Leave the crepes to cool.
Once both the filling and crepes are cool, you can start to assemble the croquettes.
Place four heaped tablespoons of the filling onto each crepe. Spread it evenly around the pancake leaving a boarder of couple of centimetres around the edge of the pancake. Press the filling down gently.
Fold two outer edges of the pancake towards the middle. Roll the bottom edge tightly towards the top edge ensuring all of the filling is encased in the crepe. This is called a closed roll which ensures no spilling and gives a neat finish. Repeat with each crepe.
You could at this point refrigerate these until needed later, up to a couple of days.
Prepare two shallow bowls. Break the egg into one of them and add the milk. Whisk together until smooth. Add the breadcrumbs to the other bowl.
Place a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add some oil and a knob of butter and allow it to foam up.
Dip each assembled crepe into the egg / milk mixture before rolling it in the breadcrumbs. Place the coated croquette into the frying pan and fry it on all sides until golden brown and crispy. Repeat until all croquettes are fried – you can fry in batches as long as you don’t overcrowd the pan. Keep the ready croquettes warm in a low oven until you are finished and ready to serve.
To serve as a party food, cut each croquette on a diagonal. Place on a serving board and scatter generously with chopped parsley. I recommend little bowls of chilli spiked red sauce for dipping alongside of these. If sitting down to a party meal, I’d urge you to have a go at making some borscht and serving it in pretty teacups alongside of these. The combo of the croquettes and hot beetroot soup is heavenly but optional. Plenty of fizz though is not! Enjoy x