If you’ve ever been to a tapas bar, croquetas are the things you eat an embarrassment of. They’re crunchy and a bit gooey, but mostly they’re made of my favorite thing: bechamel. Bechamel is a creamy white sauce, a mother sauce that turns into mac and cheese, gratin, and yes, croquetas. To really put these little heavenly bites over the top, I added pizza flavors. IT TASTES LIKE A TINY PIZZA. This is the closest you’re ever getting to a classy pizza bite or hot pocket, so take advantage of this moment.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups whole milk
freshly ground black pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces (one stick) butter, cut into pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch chili flake
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parm
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
sunflower oil or mild olive oil for frying
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer; season with salt, pepper, and the nutmeg. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and keep hot.
In a clean skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sift the flour into the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. It should be a compact and just-moist ball. Spread out the ball in the pan and begin slowly stirring in the hot milk until the mixture is creamy and not too sticky when touched, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the herbs, spices, tomato paste and cheeses. Cook, gently stirring, for 2 minutes. The mixture should be spongy and can be touched without sticking to your finger.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to cool. Once cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours until chilled. (This will make forming the croquettes easier.)
On a flat work surface dusted with flour, form croquettes into 2- to 2 1/2-inch (5- to 6.25-cm) long cylinders about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Lightly roll in flour.
Break the eggs in a bowl and thoroughly whisk. Place the breadcrumbs in a second bowl.
Dip the croquettes in the egg and roll in breadcrumbs to completely cover.
In a skillet or sauté pan, heat at least 3/4 inch/2 cm of sunflower oil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Working in small batches that don’t crowd the pan, fry the croquettes, turning frequently, until they are golden on the outside and hot and creamy at the center, about 2 minutes. Gently transfer them to absorbent paper towels to drain off excess oil. Serve hot.