Ahhh, croquettes! Crispy on the outside and cloud-soft on the inside, they make the perfect finger food or a snack and feature in so many cuisines around the world. Traditional Spanish croquetas with cod or jamon, Japanese korokke with vegetables, Dutch kroketten with beef or veal – seriously, every country has its own version.
Essentially, croquettes are breadcrumbed oval-shaped fried rolls made with mashed potato and other ingredients such as meat, fish, vegetables and cheese. I wanted to make healthier sweet potato croquettes, and instead of deep-frying, I am shallow frying them in some coconut oil.
My second filling ingredient is shredded, cooked ham hock. It’s also known as the pork knuckle and its meat requires slow cooking. You can often find pre-cooked, smoked ham hock meat (where you’d normally find regular ham), and the texture and flavour are quite similar. That’s what I used in this recipe. To me, ham hock meat is more flavourful and resembles pulled pork texture. It goes well with mustard, so I’ve decided to add some Dijon to my filling mixture.
If you buy pre-cooked ham hock, simply shred it with a fork or dice it finely. You can use regular ham or any other meat you like: chopped up chicken, turkey, cooked beef mince, leftover pulled pork or roasted beef; cooked cod, tuna or salmon are also lovely. These are great for using up leftover turkey or ham after Thanksgiving or Christmas.
These paleo croquettes are pretty easy to make but they do require some patience as you have to pre-cook the potato and then chill the mixture before moulding the rolls.
You can serve these with some homemade ketchup or salsa, aioli or just as they are with some sea salt sprinkled over the top. I love these sweet potato and ham croquettes with a little Dijon mustard on the side.
These keep well in an airtight container, so you can easily take them on a road trip or hiking. Sweet potato is a great, nutritious source of carbohydrates, so it’s also a perfect post- or pre-workout food.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (550 g / 1.1 lb), peeled and diced into large cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 100–150 g / 4-5 oz pulled or shredded ham hock meat or diced ham
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard (yellow is also okay, or 1 teaspoon Hot English)
- 1 egg
- Generous pinch of pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 levelled tablespoons of coconut flour (or 2 heaped tablespoons of almond meal)
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
- 1/3 cup almond meal (can be omitted, juts add more tapioca or cassava flour, or other grain-free flour of choice)
- Coconut oil for frying
- To serve: Dijon mustard or other condiment of choice
- Place sweet potato in a medium pot, add a teaspoon of salt and cover with water (just a little above the potato). Bring to a boil and cook for 7-8 minutes, until soft when inserted with a knife.
- Strain and return back to the pot with 1 tablespoon of ghee. Mash together using a potato masher until smooth. Let it cool off for 5 minutes, then add to a bowl with shredded ham hock (or ham, if using), egg, and mustard. Season with another half teaspoon salt, some pepper and onion powder. Mix together until well incorporated. Finally, add 2 tablespoons of coconut flour or almond meal, and mix together. Place the bowl in the fridge, uncovered, for 1 hour minimum. This will stiffen the filling mixture slightly, making it easier to mould into rolls.
- Remove the bowl from the fridge. Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat cookie tray or a platter. Mix tapioca flour and almond meal in a bowl. Sprinkle a thin layer on the parchment paper.
- Scooping about a tablespoon of the mixture in your hand at a time, mould the filling into oval-shaped rolls and place on top of the flour on the tray. Continue until all mixture is used up. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the top of the croquettes (you can also sift it), then use your hands to roll them in the flour and give them a pat between your hands to make sure they are well coated.
- Heat about 1/4 of a cup or 4 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the croquettes one at a time, leaving some space in between. Cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side, then 2-3 minutes on other sides after that, until crispy and golden brown. The oval shape usually requires you to cook them on top and bottom and then also on the sides, or at least to turn them three times. Add more coconut oil as it starts to dry up in the pan so there is always a thin layer.
- Remove the cooked croquettes to a platter. Serve with your favourite dip or condiment. I love these with more Dijon mustard on the side.