Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sweet Potato Croquettes with Spiced Pork Filling


There is something about potato croquettes that makes me feel special eating them. I almost felt like opening a birthday present. Whenever I cut open a croquettes and find a perfect nestle of meat inside, I actually feel like a kid who just unwrapped his favorite toy from the birthday present. For me, it is not because croquettes are difficult to make, but because the final products look quite impressive and all my friends love it. Cooking is such a weird hobby. We spend our time, and money trying to make delicious treats, and our satisfaction only to be depended upon words like “Can I have a second please?” or “Can I have your recipes?” I am sure those who cook know what I am talking about. It is just impossible to just cook all those delicious meals and eat all by yourself.
         Growing up in Myanmar, I used to think that croquettes originate from India. But, croquettes are surprisingly (at least for me) ubiquitous across the globe. Most countries in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America have some forms of stuffed fried mashed potatoes. While the croquette from each country has its own unique sets of history and origin, affordability, nutrition and taste were ultimate underlying forces that drove the popularity of the dish. I am not going to do too much into the history because I am hungry and ready to make myself some of these stuffed potato cakes.
         Traditionally, you will obviously use potatoes and butter (or ghee). However, I personally prefer sweet potatoes and extra-thick coconut cream because their sweet and fibrous notes complement nicely with savory heat of aromatic spices and lusciousness of the fatty ground pork. These croquettes not only taste heavenly, but also store quite well. After being made into patties, they can be stored in the fridge and then fried whenever you are ready for a quick comfort snack. For a med student, make-ahead recipes like this are a huge plus.




Serving size : Make about 6 croquettes

Ingredients for the mashed sweet potatoes
1.5 lbs. of sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons of extra-thick coconut cream
Salt
A pinch of cumin and paprika

Directions
Peel the sweet potatoes, cut into bite size pieces and boil in for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender enough to be mashed.
Drain the potatoes well, add coconut cream (it has to be extra-thick), salt, cumin and paprika and mash well.
Put in the freezer for about 10 minutes so that the mixture is hard enough to be hand-molded.




Ingredients for the filling
1 lbs. of ground pork
2 tablespoons of turmeric
2 tablespoons of paprika
1 tablespoon of cumin
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of chili powder
½ onion (minced)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon of oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Heat up the oil in the pan, and add onions and garlic sauté until they turn golden under medium heat.
Add all the spices, and sauté until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
Add ground pork and cook until the meat is thoroughly cooked.
Drain excess fat and cool down the meat in the fridge.

Ingredients for Assembly and Frying
2 eggs
Panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil (half-an-inch depth on a frying pan)

Direction
When both sweet potato and the filling are sufficiently chilled, start making 3-inch diameter patties.
The trick is to make these croquettes as if you are making ravioli. Construct the bottom patty, put in the filling, and finally put another patty on top to seal.
Then chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes (I promise this is the last time for chilling. If you want to store, you can store your croquettes at this stage).
Dip the croquette into egg wash, then the breadcrumbs, and pan-fried in an iron skillet containing shallow hot oil until the outside turn golden crispy (about 5 minutes on each side).

When serving, I like to use hot sauce, such as Sirrahca. If you have leftover filling, why not serve it with the croquettes as well. Who doesn’t like extra filling?



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