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Polenta Croquette Filled with Leeks and Ham Hock

For the last round of deep fried goodness (probably for the rest of the year), I decided to experiment with a dish that migrated to Japan from France. After a weekend filled with failed experiments (mediocre bâtard and a disasterous clementine curd cake), it was nice to finally have something turn out. This version has
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Dairy, Pork

Ingredients

For Béchamel

  • 2 tablespoons cultured unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cups leek chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cups milk (or half and half)
  • 1/2 cups ham hock finely chopped braised smoked
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • white pepper

for polenta

  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups polenta
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt pepper and

for croquette

  • flour for dredging
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs or

Instructions

  1. Make the Béchamel and polenta far enough ahead of time to chill thoroughly. You'll also need to have a ham hock that's been simmered for about 4 hours or until tender.
  2. For the Béchamel, melt the butter in a small saucepan and fry the leeks until tender but not brown. Add the flour and cook, stirring to saturate with butter, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk or half and half continuing to whisk until there are no lumps of flour and the sauce is the consistency of thick gravy. Add the chopped ham hock, salt, pimentxf3n and white pepper to taste. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold.
  3. For the polenta, just put all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook, stirring continuously for 20-30 minutes or until the polenta is tender and very viscous. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold.
  4. To make the croquttes, rub some oil on your hands. Cup one hand and spoon some polenta into it, smoothing out to make a "bowl". Spoon a small amount of Béchamel into the polenta then cover with another layer of polenta. Seal the edges and form into a puck shape with your hands. Lay on an oiled surface repeating until you're out of polenta. Refrigerate until firm.
  5. Heat a cast iron pan with about 3/4" of oil to 375 degrees F. Prepare 3 bowls, one with flour, one with a beaten egg and the last with panko. Dredge each croquette in flour, dip in the egg then thoroughly coat in panko. Fry the croquette until the sides turn light brown, flip then fry the other side until the whole thing is golden brown. Drain on a paper towel lined wire rack and serve with a dusting of pimentxf3n and tomato jam.