Valencia and Chicken Croquettes: Losting—How the Broads Travel

We rented a car on our trip to Spain.  Although this was not the unanimous decision that I thought it was.  Our original plan was to take the train, but alas the tickets would have been twice as expensive as the car rental.  Nahid approved, yet I soon realized, not entirely whole-heartedly.  I soon realized as we made our way out of Madrid that my partner in adventure was none too pleased with the car.  She told me that the traffic was going to add too much stress.  Well that was until we didn’t hit any traffic.  In fact, the freeways throughout Spain are nearly deserted.  So as the trip progressed she became much more relaxed about the car…until Valencia.

A fact that all should know about Two Broads is that we are directionally challenged.  You will never meet two people who can get lost quicker and better than 2BA.  In fact, we joke that we go “losting” more than traveling.  In a city it’s not so bad, hiking on a mountain trail, not so good.

So it should be no surprise that when we tried to find our hotel in Valencia we got terribly lost.  I have the very annoying habit of retracing my route only to try the same route again…and again…and again.  I think Einstein calls this particular trait insanity.  Nahid calls it ridiculous.  So after we had reached our breaking point a plan emerged.  Nahid would hail a cab, I would follow the taxi to the hotel and we’d “Stop the Insanity”.  This method worked like a charm. We got to the Petit Palace Bristol with absolutely no stress, alas in separate vehicles.

I must say that now that we have a viable “Plan B” we are much less stressed and bit better at finding places.  I would highly recommend this method to those of you not born with an inner compass.

Once in Valencia we had a great time and dined at a really lovely restaurant called Seu-Xerea Restaurante.  This place does innovative riffs on Spanish classics.  We opted for the tasting menu.  The standouts were a Mussel Cappucino that appeared as a cup of coffee yet seethed with the brininess of the ocean. (I’ve failed miserably at my attempts to recreate this beauty) The dessert was a wonderful clean and crisp orange cake with orange blossom cream.  Yet the course that was most unusual were the chicken croquettes.  Croquettes are standard on most restaurants, yet these little morsels were enveloped in crisp threads of crunchy goodness.  It took a while but I discovered the secret of their crunch—shreaded fillo.  Baked not fried.  And totally yum-a-licious.   I like to serve with roasted red pepper puree.

Seu-Xerea Inspired Chicken Croquettes

1/4 pound butter

1/2 cup Spanish onion finely chopped (one small onion)

3 Cloves of garlic chopped

1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk

10 oz. Chicken broiled or boiled and shredded (left over roasted chicken is ideal)

Salt and pepper

Pinch of nutmeg

Package of frozen shredded fillo thawed

  1. Heat butter in medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes
  3. Add the flour and stir to incorporate.  Cook until golden brown
  4. Add milk in a slow steady stream while stirring constantly.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes.  (This is basically béchamel sauce.)
  5. Add chicken season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  6. Let mixture cool a bit so that you can handle it.  If mixture is too sticky put back on stove and cook a little bit more.  Cool again
  7. Shape gulf ball sized balls out of the mixture.
  8. Take a small handful of the shredded fillo dough and encase the croquettes in it.  This is not an exact science.  Trust me you get better as you go along.
  9. Place wrapped croquettes non-stick baking sheet.
  10. Bake in a 375 oven for 15 minutes or until the fillo is crunchy.
  11. Serve with roasted red pepper puree.

These can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to two days.  I have made the croquettes, frozen them without the fillo.  I then take out a few for a party and wrap them once they are defrosted.

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