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Recipe: Dawn’s Balls with Sriracha Mayonnaise

October 5, 2015

A little while ago, we had my husband’s Aunt and Uncle over for Sunday lunch.  As it was a bit of a trek for them to visit us, what with them living over two hours’ drive away, I put some effort into it and pulled together a five-course luncheon.  Because that’s the way we like to roll in our household.  If you can’t spoil the lovelies in your life, who can you spoil?

Anyway, just a couple of weeks after the lunch, which was a roaring success (I think), I got the following text off Auntie.  I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it…

“Hi sweetheart – just thought I would let you know that we had the family round last night and for the occasion, I bought my very first deep-fat fryer and made what are now known affectionately as ‘Dawn’s balls’.”

I’m not sure what I was most chuffed with; the fact that she liked one of my dishes so much that she went away and made it herself, that they’ve named a dish after me, or that I was the reason that someone bought their first deep-fat fryer.  To this day I still can’t decide.

Dawn’s balls are much more commonly known as croquetas – the deep-fried crisp-coated balls brought to us by the Spanish, typically filled with a melt-in-the-mouth bechamel-like sauce that is flavoured with meats, cheese and/or fish.  They are easily my favourite of all Tapas dishes and something I make quite often when I’m entertaining because they always get gobbled up with lots of appreciative noises.

They are fairly easy to make, with just one catch.  If you want them to be a guaranteed success, you really need to make the filling the day before, so it has plenty of time to chill and become firm.  On the plus side, that also gives you less to do on the day, which is great if you’re busy making lots of other tasty treats too.  Oh, and the Sriracha Mayonnaise is a breeze.  Once you’ve made it and tasted it, you’ll be eating it with everything!

I use a variety of different recipes, but the one that Auntie replicated was from September 2015’s edition of Olive magazine and uses a fabulous combination of chorizo and manchego cheese.  I hope I won’t get in trouble for sharing it with you!  I think the Sriracha Mayonnaise is an excellent accompaniment.

Chorizo and Manchego Croquetas – makes around 30 balls

75g butter
75g plain flour
500ml whole milk
75g manchego cheese, finely grated
150g chorizo, chopped into a small dice
3 eggs, beaten
200g dried fine breadcrumbs
oil for deep frying
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, for seasoning

Sriracha Mayonnaise

4 tablespoons of your favourite mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of the red topped Sriracha sauce – I think most supermarkets sell it now (I got mine from Morrisons), but you can definitely buy it from Asian supermarkets.

The day before…
1. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a thick paste.
2. Gradually stir in the milk until you have a smooth sauce.  For anyone that makes bechamels or other white sauces, it’s exactly the same method.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, before adding the cheese.  Stir until melted and then stir in the chorizo and season really well.  Scoop into a shallow dish and leave to cool, before covering and chilling in the fridge overnight.

On the day…
1. Make the mayonnaise by mixing the mayo and sriracha.  Cover and leave in the fridge until you’re ready for it.
2. Put the egg on one plate and breadcrumbs on another.  Scoop out large teaspoons of the mix and roll each into a ball about 3cm across.  Roll the balls in the egg then the crumbs.  Repeat so you have a double layer of egg and breadcrumbs.
3. Fill a pan 1/3 full of oil (or use a deep-fat fryer like me and Auntie) and heat to 180C.  Deep fry the balls in batches for two to three minutes, until golden.  Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper.  It’s a good idea to keep them warm in a low oven whilst you’re frying the rest.
4. To serve, pop a teaspoon of mayonnaise onto a plate and top with a ball.  And repeat.  Then eat.  And repeat.

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