The traditional breading ceremony of flour, egg and panko is skipped in this recipe. The croquettes are lightly rolled in panko and do not have to be heavily or evenly coated with breadcrumbs. That’s what makes these croquettes so crunchy and light. Yield: 2½ dozen 3-inch x 1¼ inch croquettes
1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Add the potatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and cool to warm. Grate the potato with a coarse grater into a large bowl.
2. While the potatoes are cooking. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and then the leeks. When the leeks have wilted add 2 teaspoons of chili salt and stir. Continue to cook until leeks are soft and sweet, and the pan is dry. Reserve in a small bowl until potatoes are cooked and grated.
3. Add the leeks to the potatoes and mix gently. Add 4 ounces of panko, the egg, cheeses, thyme a few grinds of black pepper and 1 teaspoon chili salt. Mix until evenly combined.
4. Place the remaining panko into a small bowl.
5. Use a 1 ounce scoop to scoop a rounded ball of the croquette mixture onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Using your hands, shape each ball into a 3 inch long 1¼ inch diameter log. Gently roll in the panko to coat evenly and place back on the sheet pan. Move the scooped balls of croquettes to make room.
6. At this point, the croquettes can be frozen on the sheet pan and then placed in a zip-lock bag to store for up to 3 months in the freezer. Fry directly from frozen.
7. If you are using the croquettes in the near term, place them in the refrigerator uncovered for 20 minutes to firm up. They can be made a day in advance and left in the refrigerator uncovered until ready to fry.
8. Ready a cake rack over a sheet pan or line a heatproof dish with paper towels to receive the fried croquettes. Heat 3-inches of vegetable oil in a medium pot. The oil should come up the sides of the pot no higher than halfway otherwise you risk having the oil boil over the sides when the croquettes are added.
9. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Use a thermometer to check or drop a small piece of croquette into the oil, if it sizzles rapidly, the oil is ready. Fry croquettes 6 at a time turning once until golden on all sides. If they brown too quickly reduce the heat. Cook all the way through. Break one in half to check if you’re unsure. Carefully remove the croquettes from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on the prepared landing spot.
10. Serve croquettes hot with the chive crème fraîche on the side to dip.
Fermented Chili Flake Salt may be purchased from The Vineyard Kitchen Larder.
*Note: If you need a quick substitution for fermented chili flake salt, combine ¼ teaspoon fermented hot sauce for every ½ teaspoon flaked salt used.