Smoked Haddock Croquettes

I love smoked Haddock; I’m always surprised it doesn’t feature more often on restaurant menus. Yes, it crops up from time to time for breakfast, or the odd soup if you are lucky but most of the time it is overlooked, and often overshadowed by some bigger names, Salmon or Trout often the culprits. But smoked haddock is a brilliant piece of fish, and a great part of our heritage. Take another look at this misunderstood and much maligned product of the sea and see if you don’t agree?

230g smoked haddock fillet

500ml whole milk

75g flour

75g butter

10g Chopped parsley

1 medium onion peeled and finely diced

Pepper

Bay leaves

Thyme

200g Cornish Gouda – optional, but well worth the addition.

Oil for frying, and flour, eggs and breadcrumbs for the usual treatment.

Fist, we need to get a flavoursome stock and some cooked smoked haddock on the go – happily these both come from the one pan and take mere minutes to achieve.

Place the milk and the haddock in a suitable pan and place on a low heat with a lid on – be very careful – you do not want this to boil over or catch, I recommend a lowish heat and a watchful eye at this point, if at no other.  The aim is to just simmer the fish very gently for just a few minutes and then turn off the pan and allow the fish to sit in the hot milk for another few minutes. But, whilst. The milk is heating and just before you pop the lid on, add some pepper and a bay leaf to the pan, all that aroma will really help later on to make things a bit more interesting and complex.

Once you are happy that the fish is cooked (Flakes apart eaisily) strain off the milk and reseve in a jug nearby, allow the fish to cool, remove the skin and gently break it up a little into chunky flakes.

In a fresh sauce pan, melt the butter and add the onion, sweat the onion on a low heat for at least 10 minutes – time yourself, this seems like forever, but we really don’t want hard bits of onion in the mix later on.

After the onion is cooked, add the thyme and some pepper (no salt required as the smoked haddock will provide all the salt we need….) and cook for another minute, then add the flour and cook that for another minute and then slowly add the milk in, a bit at a time, we want a really, really thick white sauce basically.

Once all the milk is in or you are happy that the sauce is nice and thick and needs no more milk, turn off the heat. Gently mix in the haddock and the chopped parsley and if you are using it, grate the cheese and add this as well. Stir until everything is nicely combined and then set aside in the fridge to chill completely – it may well need two hours or so.

You should now have a fairly firm mixture, this can now be rolled into balls the size of those large marbles, or roughly a bit smaller than a squash ball and again set in the fridge for a little time – say, 15 minutes minimum. Once they are done and you are happy that they are firm, you can roll them in flor, then dip them in beaten egg and then roll them in breadcrumb – messy, but effective.

Heat an inch or so of cooking oil in a deep but not too big pan and heat the oil to around 170 degrees Celsius.

Fry your smoked haddock croquettes in the hot oil until golden brown, drain on kitchen paper and serve after a short rest (so they don’t burn everyone’s mouths when you serve them) you may decide that a little green sauce or aioli will go well with them, I like just a mint of hot paprika and a squeeze of lemon…. But each to their own.

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