On Christmas, this spud’s for you
By Parind Vora
Hello everyone. My name is Parind Vora. I’m the chef/owner of Lockhart Bistro in the charming Lockhart square. In this column we talk cooking, tricks to cooking, and sometimes eating.
We are full tilt into the Christmas holidays, so time is tight and we often end up just eating a second Thanksgiving dinner for Christmas. This recipe may seem complex but it will become quite easy to master by making it just a few times.
Potato and bacon croquettes are actually a traditional Christmas side especially for entertaining guests from the 1800s. Most Christmas croquettes were just mashed potatoes with bacon and cheese and maybe eggs that are breaded and fried. Ours is creamier and more refined. This recipe has a 6-to-8-hour refrigeration phase so please plan accordingly.
You can just substitute roasted poblano/Jalapeño pepper (peeled, seeded & diced) for a vegetarian option. You can also add cheese but then it’ll taste like an appetiser and be less delicate.
We will learn what a boulé is (a type of slurry). A roux is fat + starch that is used to thicken a sauce. A boulé uses milk fat vs butter or oil fat in a roux.
We still use butter for the flavour and richness.
The diced potatoes are baked vs boiled so they do not have a lot of moisture.
Potato and bacon croquettes
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
1/2 medium Spanish onion peeled and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 & ¾ cup – 2 cups all-purpose flour for the boulé
4 cups whole milk
cooked bacon (crispy) and rough chopped into small pieces
Diced baked potato cubes tossed in bacon fat
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs well beaten for the filling
the breading set-up
3-6 large eggs well beaten for
1-2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 cup of all-purpose flour
Oil for frying
Peel a small (6oz) russet potato and dice into 1/2” cube. Toss in bacon fat until lightly coated and bake in a 300-degree F oven until still a little firm on a small sheet pan. Transfer to a plate and put in the refrigerator until chilled completely (about 2-4 hours).
Mix two cups of the cold milk and all the flour in a mixing bowl until well mixed with a whisk and set aside for 15 minutes. This is the boulé/slurry.
In the meantime, wilt the diced onions and the cooked bacon in the butter without colouring the onions over medium low heat. Add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.
Add the remaining two cups of cold milk and increase the heat to medium until the milk comes to a low simmer.
To the scalded milk add the Boulé and whisk until well mixed. It should thicken a little immediately. You will need to keep whisking as it will stick and burn at this point. Don’t go to the bathroom or answer the door. If you need to do anything then just take the mixture off the heat. You will need to cook the milk mixture between 3-5 minutes until it is very thick.
Using a rubber spatula transfer the milk mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Add the bacon fat tossed diced potatoes.
Season the slightly cooled mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
Add ONLY 1-2 of the well beaten eggs and mix until incorporated completely.
put into the refrigerator for 6/8 hours until well chilled or even better overnight.
Get the breading set up. Have 3 bowls. 1 filled with flour (#1), beaten eggs (#2) & plain breadcrumbs (#3).
Form the croquettes (round or finger shapes) out of the overnight chilled potato-milk-bacon filling. Gently dredge in flour, then eggs, and finally breadcrumbs. Set the breaded croquettes on a plate and put in the freezer for an hour to set the breading.
Fry in hot oil (325-350 degrees F) until GB&D (golden, brown and delicious).
Do not crowd while frying.
Serve with the meal or as a starter or even a snack.
This can also be served with any kind of dipping sauce from ranch to Sriracha mayo.
Enjoy with your favourite Rioja or a nice Cava, prosecco or even an aged Washington Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas & a happy New Year from all of us at Lockhart Bistro!