Chicken Croquettes: When they are made using high quality ingredients they are a delicacy; when made by a machine, frozen and then dumped into a deep fried they are likely some version of fast food.
My grandmother used to make chicken fingers from scratch using laying hens from my grandfather’s chicken house. She would poach the chicken in white wine and water. She would use the stock to make soup and the chicken would be doctored with spices and used to make what she called “Chicken Fingers.” I loved these chicken morsels and would eat them until I was stuffed. My grandmother served them with several different dipping sauces but my favorite at the time was just good old Ketchup. When I asked my Mother to make chicken fingers she would invariably use some frozen version of chicken nuggets, which I found un-fulfilling.
This recipe is an up-scale adaptation of my grandmother’s version. Rather than calling them chicken fingers the correct name is croquette (from the French croquer, “to crunch”). Chicken Croquettes are typically a small cylindrical shape consisting of chopped meat or potatoes and then rolled in breadcrumbs and fried or pan seared. When they are made using high quality ingredients they are a delicacy; when made by a machine, frozen and then dumped into a deep fried they are likely some version of fast food.
Great recipe for Chicken Croquettes
1 tbsp. butter
¼ cup flour
¾ cup light cream
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. minced shallot
2 cloves garlic, grated on a micro-planer
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped in food processor (not until smooth please)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp ground fenugreek
2 tbsp flour (for rolling)
1-2 beaten eggs (for rolling)
1 Cup Panko (for rolling) I run my Panko through the Vita Prep for about 10 seconds to make it finer for this recipe.
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
For the Chicken: To make Chicken Croquettes we often take a whole chicken and cut it into portions. We get retired laying hens that are organic and pastured from the farmer that delivers fresh eggs to us. Place the cut-up chicken in a deep pot and add three cups of coarsely chopped celery, onions and carrots. Add one bottle of dry white wine and enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the pot to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for 4-5 hours. Let cool and then remove the chicken. Strain the liquid and put in a container in the refrigerator for overnight. Discard the solids in the strainer. Chill the chicken and then carefully remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones. Process the chicken in a food processor until finely chopped – do not make it into paste.
From one chicken you will likely have more chicken than this recipe calls for. You can use the chicken for other recipes. We will often make chicken enchiladas from the leftovers. After the broth has chilled carefully remove the layer of fat and discard. The broth can refrigerated for 3 -4 days and used for soup. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Try this recipe for Cream Wild of Mushroom Soup.
In the alternative, you can use fresh chicken breasts. Cut the chicken into one inch pieces and pan sear over medium heat in one tablespoon canola oil until cooked through, about 12 – 15 minutes. Process the chicken in a food processor until finely chopped – do not make it into paste.
In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon butter until melted. Add minced shallots and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until it starts to thicken then gradually add cream. Heat only until thickened, stirring often.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 lightly beaten egg. Add parsley, minced onion and cold chicken. Add salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg and fenugreek. We will often add other fresh herbs in season such as thyme and sage. Stir to fully mix. Then refrigerate the mixture for at least two hours.
Form one serving spoon portion of the mixture into a croquette shape (like oblong or cylindrical quenelles), then dip into flour, in beaten eggs, roll in Panko crumbs and place on parchment. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Try to make each croquette the same size so they will cook at the same rate. Once to this point the croquettes can be held covered in the refrigerator several hours or frozen for up to two weeks. When ready to cook, let croquettes come to room temperature. Heat oil until it sizzles when you put a drop of water in the pan. Pan sear until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and serve while piping hot.
Sauces: There are many sauces and Aioli’s we serve with croquettes. We will also use duck, quail and turkey for flavor variations on the chicken. Dark meat versus light meat offers flavor differences so chose your sauces accordingly. One of our favorite Sauces is Wild Cherry Ginger Sauce.
Wild Cherry Ginger Sauce Recipe
Wild Cherry Ginger Sauce
On Beechwood Inn’s hillside we have a wild cherry that produces some seriously sour cherries. They are real spitters. Even the birds don’t seem to have a taste for them. I started harvesting them several years ago to try and use them for something. Now I am thrilled to have this old tree. The sour cherries work great for sauces and remoulades, you just have to add something to cut through the sourness. Even better is to pit them and dry them. That seems to tame some of the sourness. Here’s my favorite recipe for these tart cherries. If you use store bought dried cherries reduce the sugar.
1 cup good quality dry red wine
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons finely grated ginger (on microplane)
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 ½ cups dried sour cherries
½ tablespoon grated orange zest (on microplane)
Put first 5 ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add sour cherries and simmer slowly for 2 – 3 hours until it reduces and thickens. Stir occasionally. Add the orange zest.