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Bacalao Croquetas Recipe

Difficulty: Medium | Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins, plus 24 hrs for soaking | Active Time: | Makes: 24 croquetas

Chef Randy Zweiban, formerly of Chicago’s Nacional 27 and now at Province, gave us this recipe, and it was a hit from the first time we cooked it up. Great served warm or cold, these crispy little salt-cod fritters are a favorite of CHOW.com’s Meredith Arthur.

What to buy: You’ll find bacalao at most fish markets or high-end grocery stores; it usually comes in a wooden 1-pound box. Look for boniato in the produce departments of some grocery stores and at most Latin markets. For the breadcrumbs, use panko (japanese breadcrumbs) or regular dry breadcrumbs.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 pound bacalao (dried salt cod)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 pound boniato (tropical sweet potato)
  • 3/4 pound red-skinned potatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 tablespoon roasted garlic (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Cover bacalao with cold water and soak in refrigerator overnight; change the water two or three times.
  2. Remove bacalao from water. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and, once simmering, poach fish until very tender, about 20 or 30 minutes. Drain and discard milk, and let bacalao cool.
  3. Peel boniato and potatoes and boil separately until fork tender. Drain and combine in a mixing bowl. While still warm, mash boniato and potatoes with onions, cream, herbs, egg yolk, garlic, and cayenne. Season well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix in cooled bacalao and taste; adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Heat 3 inches oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, or Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 325°F. Place each flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs on separate shallow plates. Line a large plate with paper towels and set aside. Meanwhile, form 1/4 cup of mixture into balls or cakes (you’ll have about 24 croquetas). Bread each croqueta by dusting with flour, dipping into beaten eggs, then covering with bread crumbs.
  5. Deep-fry croquetas until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and season with salt; serve immediately.

Note: To roast garlic, wrap heads of garlic in aluminum foil and roast at 400°F until soft, about 45 minutes.