Courtesy Anthony Sasso, executive chef, Tapas Bar at La Sirena, New York City
In Spain, croquetas are usually filled with béchamel and ham or cod. This version combines three Spanish classics: paella, croquetas and gazpacho. Sasso marries the Spanish version with Sicilian arancini served at the many Italian restaurants of owners Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.
- 4 yellow beefsteak tomatoes
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
Heat oven to 375˚F. Toss whole tomatoes in bowl with just enough olive oil to coat. Place tomatoes on sheet tray. Roast for 25–30 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and skin blisters. Remove from tray, and cool for at least 10 minutes. In blender, working in batches if necessary, combine tomatoes, garlic and vegetable oil. Purée until smooth. Season with salt, to taste. Can be made 24 hours in advance and stored in refrigerator.
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 1 white onion, coarsely chopped
- 8 jarred piquillo peppers
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- Salt, to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon saffron
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 quarts chicken stock, divided
- 3 tablespoons mascarpone
- 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 pint mixed-color cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Quarter 2 tomatoes and grate other 2. Place quartered tomatoes, onion and peppers in food processor. Process into fine paste, about 30 seconds. Warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Toast garlic until golden. Add puréed tomato mixture. Cook 10–15 minutes, or until mixture starts to darken and thicken.
Add rice and stir to coat. Season with pinch of salt and saffron. Deglaze with white wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook until all wine is evaporated, and then add grated tomatoes. Cook until liquid evaporates. Add 1 quart chicken stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 6–8 minutes. Repeat with remaining chicken stock. At this point, rice should be fully cooked. Fold in mascarpone, and add salt to taste. Spread onto a sheet tray. Let cool.
Once cool, use ice-cream scoop to make rounds slightly smaller than golf balls (1½ ounces each). Chill in refrigerator. Once cold, coat completely in panko. Refrigerate at least 3 hours (can be made 24 hours ahead).
To fry, heat vegetable oil in Dutch oven until thermometer reaches 375˚F. Working in batches, place 10–12 croquetas into oil using a slotted spoon or spider, adjusting heat to maintain oil temperature. Fry for 2 minutes, or until dark gold on outside and heated through inside (use toothpick to check). Transfer to paper towel-lined plate, and season with salt.
Serve croquetas atop shallow pool of chilled or room-temperature gazpacho. Toss cherry tomatoes with lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Use mixture as garnish. Serves 8.
Sparkling wine and fried foods are the ultimate pairing, so La Sirena Wine Director Scott Waltz starts things off with Marc Hébrart NV Brut Rosé Champagne. “Biscuit-like notes pair perfectly with the panko crust of the croquettes, while the rosé provides a little more body for the paella,” says Waltz. “Hébrart’s rosé has a remarkable elegance, enlivened by both zesty acidity and a vivid saline chalkiness.”