These Ham Cigars and Curried Chicken Croquettes are great for an appetizer, snack, or light lunch. They reheat easily as well. It’s a good way to use up leftovers.
Our Cuban restaurant and bakery, Porto’s, have both chicken and ham croquettes. Sadly, because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t eat at the restaurant, so I had to make do at home. I love both and have made the chicken croquettes often when I have leftover rotisserie chicken. This time, I had both chicken and ham leftover so I decided to try my hand at ham croquettes.
Ham Cigars and Curried Chicken Seasoning
The base for both is very simple. It’s a mixture of sauteed onion, butter, flour, and milk. You are free to add whatever you want to that base. In this case, for the chicken, I added curry powder that I made at home, and for the ham, I added dried jalapeno. I had forgotten that my curry powder jar had tragically fallen to the tile floor and smashed into a million curry-scented pieces, so I made my own from spices I already had in my pantry. If you want to make your own, too, you can find the recipe for Homemade Curry Powder in this post.
Breading for Croquettes
For both, I used flour and egg, then I used Panko for the chicken and unseasoned breadcrumbs for the ham. I used the unseasoned for the ham because I didn’t want them as crunchy as their poultry cousins. When you make this you could do either one. The important part of breading is giving the item time to dry. You want to let the items sit for about a half an hour before frying them so the breading can set. I recommend putting them in the refrigerator, especially if it’s a hot day.
For the Base
- 1 stick unsalted butter, 4 ounces
- ½ Spanish onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1½ cup whole milk
- 1/4 tsp sea or Kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1 pinch nutmeg
For the Ham Cigars
- 6 ounces Ham, cooked and finely chopped
- 1 tsp jalapeno crushed, or minced fresh jalapeno
For the Curried Chicken Croquetas
- 6 ounces roasted chicken, cooled and shredded (about 2 cups)
- 2 tbsp curry powder
For the Breading
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, unseasoned
- sunflower oil, for frying
Prepping the Meat
- Use the food processor on pulse to mince the chicken in small pieces.
- Clean the processor bowl out and mince the ham into small pieces as well
Making the Base
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ¾ cup of flour, salt and pepper, and the nutmeg. Stir to blend well. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently until the flour begins to turn golden and smell toasty about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the milk in a slow steady stream, whisking continuously.
- Your mixture should look like this
- Separate the base in half in the pan.
- Divide the base into two bowls. You will be using one for the chicken and one for the ham.
- Add the chicken to one of the bowls
- Add the ham to the other bowl
- Have seasoning ready for both
For the Ham Cigars
- Add the jalapeno to the ham and mix it in thoroughly. A wooden spoon is a good tool for this. When you are done, your mixture should look like this.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, take a heaping spoonful of the ham mixture and put it your hand. Roll it into a cylinder.
- Put the cylinder on a cooling rack and continue to make cylinders until you have run out of the mixture.
For the Curried Chicken
- Add the curry powder to the chicken and mix it in thoroughly. A wooden spoon is a good tool for this. When you are done, you mixture should look like this.
- Clean the ice cream scoop and take a heaping spoonful of the chicken and roll it into a ball. Put it on a cooling rack and continue to do so until you have run out of the chicken mixture.
- This is what your chicken may look like before breading.
Breading the Croquettes
- Put the remaining flour in a bowl. Put the eggs in another bowl and beat them slightly. Put Panko breadcrumbs in another bowl, and regular breadcrumbs in a fourth bowl.
- Mise En Place - Beaten Egg, Flour and Panko Bread Crumbs
- For the cigars, take a cigar and roll it lightly in the flour. Shake it off and put it in the beaten egg, rolling as you go. Remove it from the egg, shaking any excess, then roll it in the regular breadcrumbs. Take the cigar and put it back on the wire rack then continue the same with the rest.
- For the chicken, roll the ball in the flour first, then egg, then the Panko breadcrumbs. Put the ball on the wire rack and continue the same with the rest.
- Put the breaded croquetas in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set.
Fry the Croquettes
- Get a baking sheet ready with paper towels to drain the croquettes. If you have an extra cooling rack, put it on the baking sheet and put the paper towels on it.
- In a 4-quart saucepan, add enough olive oil so it comes about 1/2 way to the top. Heat the oil to 375°.
- Put two or three of the cigars in the spider strainer and carefully submerge the cigars in the hot oil. They are done when they are browned and rise to the top. Use the strainer to lift them out of the oil and onto paper towels or a paper towel lined cooling rack to drain.
- Working in batches, put one or two of the curried chicken balls in the spider strainer and carefully submerge them the hot oil. Fry the croquettes until golden brown, about 1 minute per batch. Drain on paper towels, then season lightly with salt.