We like having croquettes occasionally, mainly because they’re a perfect way to use up leftovers in an interesting fashion. But, more than that, they’re easy to make, and can make your leftovers seem like a new dish.
When we can back from our travels, we made up a quick batch of black bean soup and some brown rice to have along with it. We ended up with about a cup of leftover brown rice that we wanted to use the next day for lunch. We thought of croquettes because the rice will take on a nice, crispy texture as the croquettes bake, and we came up with the idea of mixing peas with the rice, well, partly from the Schoolhouse Rock song Conjunction Junction. Really, there’s a line that goes: “Peas and rice, hey, that’s nice!”
Since we think of croquettes as a way to use leftovers, take all the measurements below as a guide, not as gospel truth. Also, realize that you can make leftover croquettes from almost anything; it doesn’t have to be peas and rice.
Don’t cook rice just to make this dish; wait until you have some leftovers. The only real ingredients you need to worry about are the eggs. They bind everything together, and, without them, you’ll simply be baking leftovers of some sort or another, which might be just the thing, too. We use eggs from free-ranging hens allowed to peck and scratch; we simply think they taste better. Plus, the hens live in a better environment, which is also important.
Oh, and, while you don’t have to do this, it is, of course, simple to make bread crumbs at home: just place chopped up pieces of bread in a food processor and whirl until they’re crumbs. If you really want, you can bake the crumbs dry afterward, but, for these croquettes, there’s no need, so just use them fresh.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. If you want easy cleanup, line a couple of baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment. If you have neither, lightly oil or grease the pans.
Mix ingredients. You won’t really know how many eggs you’ll need, so start with one. Mix together the rice, peas, 1 egg, and all the rest in a medium bowl. Once well mixed, scoop up about a heaping tablespoonful and press it into a ball shape with your other hand. If the mixture holds together, you’re good to go. Otherwise, add another egg, mix, and try again. We had to do that, and, even then, the mixture barely held together. We thought about adding a third egg, but we figured, ah, what the hey, and didn’t bother.
Shape croquettes. Scoop up a heaping tablespoonful of mixture, shape using your cupped hand, and slide onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about an inch of space between each croquette. If some of the mixture breaks off, just push it back into place. Continue until all the rice mixture has been shaped.
Bake. Into the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the croquettes are golden and crispy on the outside, but not so long that they dry out.
Serve immediately. We had ours with just a bit of Tamari sauce (a traditional soy sauce made by fermenting just soy beans), making them taste similar to baked fried rice. Perfect for lunch.
See, croquettes are an easy way to use up a few leftovers in a novel way. It’s not much harder than simply reheating them, but it changes the texture and appearance, making it seem like a whole new dish. Four easy stars.