I devised these little spicy ham and cheese croquettes as my yummy solution when I realized I made way too much Spanish style rice for dinner the other day. Croquettes are always such a fantastic way to use up leftover rice! Since the rice was already Spanish style, I decided to take these in a spicy, smokey direction and they came out even better than I ever could have hoped! Don’t you just love when leftovers get reinvented into something incredible and new?
- 2 cups of my cooked Spanish Style rice (get the recipe here, it’s so easy!)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1 tspn hickory smoked sea salt (I’m obsessed with this stuff now. If you can’t find it in your spice shop, use regular kosher salt and also add in cumin to taste to get a nice smokey flavor!)
- 1 tspn Sriracha
- 4 thin slices of deli ham, cut into ribbons and then diced
- 10 1 inch cubes of pepper jack cheese
- 1 additional cup of breadcrumbs for coating
- Canola oil, for pan frying
In a bowl combine the cooked rice, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, eggs, salt, cumin (if needed) sriracha and ham. Mix it all thoroughly and knead it a bit to bring it together. Form almost bite sized balls out of the mixture and insert a cube of the pepper jack into the center of each one. With the size that I made mine, I got 10 croquettes out of the mixture but this could vary depending on the size you make them. Adjust the amount of pepper jack cubes you cut up based on how many croquettes you yield. Roll each of the croquettes in the additional breadcrumbs to thoroughly coat them and transfer them to a platter when they are done.
Get a large pan or pot on the stove and fill it with 2-3 inches of canola oil. Heat the oil over medium heat, we want a gentle pan frying here. Once the oil is hot, pan fry the croquettes in 2 batches so that there is enough room in the pan and you can babysit them more easily. Let them get golden on one side for about 2-3 minutes, then use a spoon to gently roll them over to the other side without squishing them or losing their shape. Transfer the cooked spicy ham and cheese croquettes to a plate lined with paper towels to blot the oil and repeat with the next batch. I did two batches of 5.
Serve the spicy ham and cheese croquettes immediately after they’ve been blotted on the paper towels and are cool enough to handle. Let me tell you, these are such perfect little bites. The exterior is so crispy, and then you get the texture of the rice, the savory ham and creamy cheesy center. The sriracha and pepper jack give just the perfect amount of heat, it’s not overbearing. You can serve these as a fantastic cocktail party appetizer but they are also substantial enough to have two or three as a meal over some greens. I dipped mine in my favorite salsa and that addition of tomato flavor just sent these over the top!