Nick Cullen suggests a quick and easy treat for the family

You might be bored of your own cooking by now, or running out of ideas when it comes to feeding the kids.

Today’s dish is inspired and adapted from my Spanish style croquettes recipe, but by using regular cooked ham and cheddar cheese it’s a snack that can be made from everyday ingredients.

Of course you can make this more authentic by using Serrano ham and Manchego cheese. Or adapt the fillings and use whatever you have in stock – leftover roast chicken or flaked white fish can also work.

Either way, these little croquettes are really tasty and kids love them. They can even get involved with the preparation as part of a home-school cookery class!

I generally make these in summer alongside a few other tapas style dishes but they are equally great served as a light lunch for the family or a snack for hungry kids.

Try them dipped in some spicy salsa or sweet chilli sauce. Or good old tomato ketchup works as well!


(serves 6)

125g cooked ham, chopped

1 small onion, finely diced

50g butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

50g plain flour

2 free range eggs, beaten

100g cheddar, grated

200g breadcrumbs

300ml hot milk

1 tsp. Dijon or English mustard

1 litre of sunflower oil for deep frying

Heat the butter in a pan and gently cook the onion until softened. Stir in the flour and gradually add the milk, stirring continuously to avoid creating any lumps. Cook for five minutes until thickened.

Stir in the ham, mustard and cheese and season to taste.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool, covering the top with cling film to stop a skin from forming. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to allow the mixture to firm up.

When you are ready to cook the croquettes, remove from the fridge and divide the mixture into about 20 oval shapes.

Add the breadcrumbs to a plate and beat the eggs in a bowl.

Dip each of the croquettes in the egg mixture and roll into the breadcrumbs. Chill for an hour.

Heat the oil in a deep pan or a deep-fat fryer to 190c. In batches, cook the croquettes for one or two minutes or until golden brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper before serving with salsa or sauce.