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Posted on Nov 25, 2008 | 26 comments

Curried turkey croquettes

Curried turkey croquettes

Curried turkey croquette

Croquettes are a cross-cultural tool for breathing new life into leftovers, perfect for any mashed potatoes that survive Thanksgiving dinner. There are versions of these breaded, fried balls of leftover potatoes or meat found around the world: bitterballen and kroket in the Netherlands, korokke in Japan, alu-tikki in India, and the list goes on. I demonstrated this recipe today on Fox40 live TV news in Sacramento for a segment on Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers, and will post a link to the video once it’s up.

(UPDATE: The video links for the Fox40 “Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers” are up; click for the first TV segment with turkey mole enchiladas, and the second TV segment with the croquettes and ways to repurpose leftover cranberry sauce.)

The basics are simple, and can be tweaked with whatever leftovers and seasonings you have on hand. Take some cold mashed potatoes, add vegetables or proteins, flavor, form into shapes, roll in bread crumbs, and fry.  I chose to add leftover turkey and curry powder, and served them with a trio of dipping sauces: stone ground mustard, tonkatsu sauce, and leftover cranberry sauce. (Read on for the full recipe.)

You can make these in advance and freeze after rolling them in bread crumbs. Just pull a couple out of the freezer and fry when still frozen, making them a nice cheap staple for your freezer stash.

In the TV segment, I also made turkey mole enchiladas to use up leftover turkey, and incorporated leftover cranberry sauce in yogurt, cream cheese, biscuits and muffins. A tip of the hat goes to to family friend Joe Palca for the muffin idea.

Curried Turkey Croquettes

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, cold
1/2 cup leftover turkey, diced
2.5 tsp curry powder, such as Madras curry powder
1/3 cup flour
salt & pepper
1 large egg
2 Tb cold water
1 cup dry, coarse bread crumbs, preferably Japanese panko
1/4 cup vegetable oil

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the cold mashed potatoes, turkey, and curry powder.
  2. Set up your breading station with three shallow dishes or plates. In one dish, combine the flour, salt and pepper. In another, beat the egg and water together with a fork. Put the bread crumbs in the third.
  3. With your hands, form mixture into oblong patties 2 inches wide, 3 inches long, and 3/4 inch thick. (If deep frying instead of pan frying, you may also make 1.5-inch balls or 2-inch long barrel shapes. The thicker shapes turn out better when deep fried.)
  4. Croquettes on mini cooling rackLightly dredge the croquettes in the flour, patting off excess. Coat the floured croquettes in the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs. Set on a cooling rack set over a tray to await frying. (The patties may be made in advance and frozen at this point, and fried later while frozen.)
  5. To pan-fry, pour the oil into a large, preferably nonstick skillet, and turn heat to medium high. When the oil is hot, gently add as many breaded patties as will fit very loosely. Fry 1.5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Use a slotted spatula to transfer to a cooling rack, mini cooling rack, or a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  6. When they are all done, serve immediately with a dipping sauce such as stone ground mustard, tonkatsu sauce (here’s a recipe for making your own, or buy it on Amazon), cranberry sauce, ketchup, or curried yogurt or mayonnaise. If packing in a lunch for later, see the packing notes below for tips.

Note: To deep fry, pour enough vegetable oil into a deep pot to come 3 inches up its sides, and heat until the oil reaches 350 deg. F. When the oil is hot, bubbles will form around a bamboo or wooden chopstick touching the bottom of the pot. Put in as many ball- or barrel-shaped croquettes as will loosely fit without crowding. Fry for 3 minutes or until golden, using a slotted spoon to periodically turn the croquettes in the oil to ensure even browning. Transfer to a cooling rack or a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Croquette lunch for preschoolerPacking Tips: If packing in a bento, be sure to cool these thoroughly on a cooling rack before packing them and closing the lid on them. If you pack them when they’re still warm, they’ll become soggy with condensation by the time you’re ready to eat.

Some people like to use special baking cups lined with oil-absorbent paper when packing croquettes in a bento lunch (available internationally at Daiso discount store), but they’re not necessary. Feel free to use a bit of paper towel underneath the croquettes if you feel they’re too oily when you’re packing your lunch.

FURTHER READING:

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  1. Frozen mashed potato croquettes, now that’s ingenuity! Too bad we never have any leftover mashed potatoes! I wonder if they could be baked instead of fried? I usually bake my chick pea croquettes, falafel, & veggie burgers, so maybe I’ll give it a try.

  2. On first reading this I thought it said “breading new life” which was rather apt.

    alas I fear I shall never try my hand at croquetry as any leftover mashed potato in this house soon turns into potato pancakes.

  3. Mmm, I should try this, I’ll be sure to snag some takeout boxes to take leftovers from thanksgiving din this year :)

  4. mmm.. num nummy! i love kokorre. green onion, garlic, and cheese with the mashers are fantastic.

  5. did your little one get to see you on tv?

  6. I love this idea! Can’t wait to try it!

  7. @2 Veganf – i’d be really interested in seeing if that works! please let us know if you try it.

  8. We tried these today and they were awesome, so thanks for the idea! We didn’t have panko in the house, but we did have a bag of leftover bread stuffing crumbs. Those made a much crunchier crust than regular store-bought bread crumbs.

  9. I made extra mashed potatoes just so I could try this. My girls didn’t want turkey so I just used potatoes and peas, without any curry powder. Pretty tasty. And I made extra to freeze :)

  10. @9 from Julie: Very inventive use of the leftover bread stuffing crumbs! Triple leftover remake!

  11. mmmmmmm, so tasty! I made a big match of these on Friday. Some are plain mashed potato, some are turkey and peas, and the rest are mixed veggies. No curry powder on hand so in a couple I mixed in some cumin for a mexican taste. For me, they seem easier to fry from frozen, I have to worry less about how I place them in the pan and they seem more stable overall.

  12. I think your concepts are great, but personally I find that deep-frying things was left back in the ’70′s. I have a husband with cholesterol issues and a Vegetarian Health Minded Son….there’s no way they’d eat anything deep fried. I think the baking idea deserves kudos.

  13. What a great way to use leftover turkey AND mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving. I love croquettes!

  14. Mmm, croquettes! There’s a recipe for simple and lovely bechamel-based croquettes at Bitten. I like to make up batches of croquettes, freeze them, and then have them on hand for a snack that’s quick to assemble and delicious to eat.

    Janet, if the croquettes are thoroughly coated with the flour, eggs, and panko, then that outer layer gets crisped and seals when deep frying, so that the oil doesn’t penetrate to the interior of the croquette. In other words, they’re not as unhealthy as they might seem on first glance.

  15. I actually had heard the idea before and have been making these for a year, but I never thought to freeze them. It’s a pretty dishes intensive project for me so the idea of making a stash was great.

    One question though – I dug into my stash today, and they were still cold in the middle by the time they were brown and good on the outside. I ended up sticking them in my toaster oven for a couple of minutes, but do you fry them any different when they’re frozen? Low heat, high heat? I really like the idea but it didn’t work out so well. :(

  16. I LOVE kroketten. YUM! I live in the Netherlands and they are our national snack :) McD even put them on their menu here!
    I lived in the US for a while and when I got back I couldn’t wait to have them!
    BTW, I just read in a nutrition book that a kroket sandwich is actually LESS unhealthy than a cheese sandwich (if fried properly, at a high temp and in low cholestorol vegetable oil)

  17. @17 from Anica: You’ll have better luck heating frozen croquettes all the way through if you freeze the flat discs rather than the thick balls or barrels. Faster to heat up!

  18. @18 from Claudia: I’m a big fan of bitterballen as well, especially curry-flavored ones. When I lived in Japan I used to play on a gaijin (foreigners’) field hockey team in Kobe every Saturday. Unsurprisingly, there were a number of Dutch & Indian players on the two teams (men & women). After practice we’d all go into the clubhouse and order bitterballen and french fries, which the Dutch would always eat with mayonnaise. It was my first exposure to bitterballen, and I had them every Saturday for years. Very nostalgic food memory for me. Years later we actually went to the Netherlands a couple of times and I had many kroketten and bitterballen — I’d love to go back and have some more variations!

  19. I have made scotch eggs a few times, odd dish at first glance but actually it’s very good. The secret is to actually deepfry rather than the over baking etc., because that doesn’t yield as good of a result. I last made them using quail eggs. Makes them smaller in size then when you use hen eggs.

    An actual deep fryer will not pass over the threshold here. I fear I’d make too much tempura, croquettes, churros oh you get the drill ;). I deep fry in a pan now. The work it takes makes me not to it so often.

  20. Another Dutch girl here! Fun to see the bitterballen and kroketten mentioned here after not reading for a while.
    If you want I could try and find/get/beg my grandma/mother-in-law or cookbooks for good recipes for Dutch kroketten and bitterballen? I could translate the recipes. I think there must be plenty.
    That way you can try some more variations like the ones you had. But mostly it’s just a thick ragout with meat. The amount and quality differs, that’s all actually.

    Too bad shipping kroketten to the US is a baaad idea. =’)

  21. We tried these just the other day. So yummy! Great as leftovers too! Thanks!

  22. These really look good! I can’t wait to try – thanks for the recipe!

  23. the video links on this page just went to the generic FOX news area… how can i access them?

  24. Have you ever thought of making mini latkes or falafel…these just reminded me of them for some reason…

  25. I was glad to read such information,Kade