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Pork deserves to be fried

Ham croquettes with parsley sauce adapted from James Villas’s “Pig: King of the Southern Table.” (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

Ham croquettes with parsley sauce adapted from James Villas’s “Pig: King of the Southern Table.” (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

These creamy ham croquettes from James Villas’ new cookbook, “Pig: King of the Southern Table,” are great as is. But Villas also encourages cooks to experiment by adding additional ingredients, such as olives, caper and chopped bell pepper.

The recipe itself is easy, but it does call for chilling the mixture overnight before forming it into patties. This helps the mixture thicken and hold its shape. If you’re in more of a hurry, and hour or so (with frequent stirring) in the freezer works, too.


Start to finish: 30 minutes (plus 24 hours chilling)

Servings: 6 For the croquettes:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

3 scallions (white parts only), finely chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dredging

1 1/2 cups milk

4 cups coarsely chopped cooked ham

3 large egg yolks 1 large egg

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

3/4 cup breadcrumbs For the sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

For the croquette coating:

1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water

2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs

Peanut oil, for frying

To make the croquettes, in a medium saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Add the scallions and flour, then whisk until soft and well blended, about 2 minutes. Whisking rapidly, add the milk. Add the ham, stir well, and remove from the heat.

Whisking rapidly, add the egg yolks and whole egg, then return to the heat. Add the mustard, sage, salt and pepper, then whisk until well blended. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Scrape the mixture into a baking dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan over low, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms. Gradually add the milk, stirring until thickened and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper and parsley, keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

Place the egg beaten with water in a large, wide bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a similar bowl.

Use your hands to divide the mixture into 6 balls and roll lightly in the extra flour. Pat the balls into smooth oval patties. Dip each into the egg wash, then dredge through the breadcrumbs.

In a large, heavy skillet over high, heat about 1 inch of oil. Fry the patties until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side, then drain briefly on paper towels. Serve the croquettes with the parsley sauce on the side.

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