The humble croquette may be a great way to use up leftovers, but it can also be an easy way to chow down hidden fat and calories. So you need to concoct your croquettes with a little nutritional know-how.
Start with lean protein, such as chicken or turkey breasts, leftover pork tenderloin or a low-fat seafood, such as cooked shrimp, crab or even a white fish such as tilapia.
For the fillers, lean toward vegetables, which add more flavor and moisture, rather than starches. Aromatics such as onions, garlic and peppers season while also adding a variety of colors and textures. And if you do want to add a starch, especially for its binding qualities, consider using sweet potato, which is packed with fiber and nutrients.
AP Photo - - Chicken & Sweet Potato Croquettes with Red Pepper Relish
Finally, though many croquettes are deep-fried or at least cooked in generous amounts of fat, with a good nonstick pan or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, you should be able to get satisfyingly crispy results using just cooking spray.
Chicken & Sweet Potato Croquettes with Red Pepper Relish
Start to finish: 35 minutes. Serves 4.
For the relish:
12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 tablespoons hot pepper jelly
1 scallion, thinly sliced
For the croquettes
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup uncooked shredded sweet potato
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breast or turkey breast
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
To prepare the relish, in a small bowl whisk together the red peppers, oregano, thyme, jelly, salt and scallions. Set aside.
To prepare the croquettes, in a large nonstick skillet over high, heat the oil. Add the sweet potato, onion and red bell pepper. Saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Wipe out the skillet and set aside.
Add the chicken (or turkey), lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper, then stir to combine. Add the egg whites and sour cream, then stir again.
Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Divide the chicken (or turkey) mixture into 12 balls, using about 2 heaping tablespoons per ball. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs to coat.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. When the pan is hot, add 6 of the balls, flattening them into patties with a spatula. Cook until golden-brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Transfer the croquettes to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Coat the skillet with additional cooking spray, then repeat with the remaining balls. Serve with red pepper relish.
Nutrition information per serving: 310 calories; 62 calories from fat (20 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 67 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrate; 28 g protein; 3 g fiber; 767 mg sodium.