Tidy Big T Tapas

IMG_6763 So the last time I went home to the Big T (otherwise known as Tranent) I spent a lot of time cooking. It's traditional that whenever I'm home (or whenever we're together anywhere, actually) that the mothership and I go for tapas. Since the good ship TidyMunch set sail somewhere between that visit and the one before it, I decided that instead of going out for tapas, I'd just make my own.

And so I present to you: Croquetas de jamón with alioli, Chorizo al jerez, and Patatas Bravas.

There's quite a bit to do in these recipes, so unless you fancy spending an entire day in the kitchen (if you're as slow as me) I'd recommend making the Croquetas and the alioli a day ahead!

Of course, there's no need to serve them all together, you can pick and choose as you please. It's quite the feast if you do make the effort, though!


For the Croquetas:

800ml milk

1/2 large onion, studded with 5 cloves

1/2 tsp black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

200g cured ham, chopped

100g butter

150g plain flour

3 eggs

250g breadcrumbs

For the Alioli

4tsp garlic puree

2tsp lemon juice

pinch of salt

2 egg yolks

200ml olive oil

For the Patatas Bravas:

1.5kg firm, waxy, potatoes, cubed & lightly salted

smoked paprika

2x 400g tins chopped tomatoes in their own juice

3tbsp olive oil

4tsp garlic puree

pinch of chilli flakes

2 bay leaves

1/2tsp dried thyme

1/2tsp oregano

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

100ml fino sherry

1/2tsp caster sugar

For the Chorizo:

200g cooking chorizo

75ml fino sherry

This fed four hungry bellies very comfortably - you can expect leftover croquettes and alioli.


1. Add the milk, onion, peppercorns, and bayleaves to a saucepan, and bring to the boil.

2. Turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes, before straining the milk and returning to the saucepan with the ham. Simmer for a further 2 minutes.

3. in a separate saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour, to make a roux, and cook for another 30 seconds, before removing from the heat.

4. Slowly, little by little, stir in the milk and ham mixture, stirring the whole while.

5. Return to the heat, and keep stirring until the mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Taste, and season if needed, before scooping onto a plate or tray to cool completely.

While the mixture is cooling, it's a good time to make the alioli!

6. Add the garlic puree, salt, and egg yolks to a mixing bowl, and whisk them well together.

7. Whisk in the oil very very slowly (drop by drop) never adding the next until the last is completely incorporated.

8. Once a thick emulsion has formed, you can start adding the oil a little less painstakingly, but still slowly. A thin, steady stream is best. As I whisk by hand, I still prefer to add it in small instalments rather than a continuous stream, so that my other hand is free to steady the bowl.

9. Once all of the oil is incorporated, you should be done. Your alioli should be thick, like mayo. If it's not, check out the Cheesy Mac Bites with Home Made Chilli Mayo recipe for tips on how to rescue it!

10. Check the seasoning - add in a little more salt or lemon juice if necessary, and then just pop it in the fridge until you need it.

Back to the Croquetas!

11. Beat the eggs, and spread the breadcrumbs on a plate.

12. Take a dessert-spoon of mixture, and use another to form the mixture into a rough oval shape.

13. slip the mixture into the egg, then transfer to the breadcrumbs. Make sure it's fully coated, and hand-shape into a croquette, before putting aside on a separate tray. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. You should be able to get about 24 croquetas out of it.

14. Pop the tray into the fridge for at least an hour, until you're ready to eat. They'll keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Now, tapas wouldn't be tapas without Patatas Bravas! So let's get it on the go!

15. Start with the sauce! Pour the tomatoes into a saucepan with the garlic, chilli, and herbs, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes until most of the tomato juice has evaporated. Remove from the heat.

16. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in oil until they're just tender, but not coloured. Set aside.

17. In another saucepan, sauté the onion and pepper for about 20 minutes until they're soft, sweet, and slightly caramelised.

18. Add the sherry, and bring to the boil before adding the tomatoes, sugar, and a teaspoon of the paprika. Cook for 5 minutes, adding a little water if it appears too thick, and then set aside.

You hungry? Let's bring this all together!

19. Deep fry the croquetas until golden, in batches of 5 or so. Keep warm in a low oven.

20. Gently reheat the Bravas sauce, while you:

21. Deep fry the potatoes until they're crispy and golden, whilst you also:

22. Slice the chorizo into bite-sized pieces, and dry fry in a hot pan. As soon as it's coloured, flip it over to cook the other side. Add the Sherry (look out for the sizzle and steam) and leave it a few seconds for the alcohol to burn off. Transfer to a warm serving dish.

23. Add the potatoes to a warm serving bowl, and spoon the Bravas on top, sprinkling with more paprika, if you fancy it.

24. Set the Croquetas each atop a spoonful of alioli.

25 Bring it all to the table, with the rest of the alioli as a dip on the side.



Tidy Savings

Another close competition this week, with Tesco clinching it at £26.03. ASDA weren't far behind with their £26.61 comparing favourably to Morrisons' £27.31.

Sainsbury's weren't too far off the mark this week, at £29.50, but still sadly predictable in third place.

Tidy Tweaks

Well the first (obvious) tweak is not to serve it all together! Chop and change, mix and match as you see fit.

I love the idea of adding cheese to the croqueta mixture; cheese makes a meal.You could probably swap out the ham for bacon if you like. I've not suggested chorizo, since I'm already serving that separately.

It's not unheard of for Patatas Bravas to be served with alioli as well as the Bravas sauce, so yay for already giving you the recipe!

You could do the chorizo in red wine instead of sherry, and could also choose to poach it rather than fry it. Alternatively, you could just fry it without any alcohol - this is actually my favourite way to eat chorizo!


These recipes are tweaked from Sam & Sam Clark's Moro The Cookbook