Here we have some tasty little morsels of fried goodness, crispy golden balls that hide a creamy mushroom filling. Be sure to give them a moment to cool a little – if you're greedy like me and try to eat them immediately, you may burn your mouth and then eating more becomes less fun.
- 90 g butter
- ½ brown onion, finely diced
- 200 g button mushrooms, sliced thinly
- ¼ cup finely chopped garlic chives
- 80 g plain flour, sifted
- 50 g cornflour, sifted
- 600 ml milk
- 1 bay leaf
- river salt and white pepper
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup of milk
- 50 g plain flour
- ½ tsp river salt
- white pepper
- 140 g panko breadcrumbs, buzzed in a blender until fine
- vegetable oil, for frying
- lemon cheeks, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time overnight
In a wide-based pan on a medium heat, gently begin to melt the butter. Once it starts to foam a little, add the onion and give it a bit of a season. Continue cooking gently for about 2 minutes, at which stage your onions should be nicely softened. Throughout this initial cooking stage, you want to make sure that you don't get too much colour â€“ slow and steady, please.
Add the mushrooms and continue stirring for another couple of minutes or so, until also softened. At this stage, add your garlic chives, stir, and then add in both your sifted flours. Turn the heat down and stir in a concentrated fashion, as you'll find that it all becomes a sticky mass that needs to be cooked out without it sticking or catching on the base of your pan. Keep stirring for 5 minutes or so, until you see your mix becoming smooth and more uniform.
Meanwhile, in another pot have your milk warming with the bay leaf.
Once you feel the time is right, add in a large ladleful of warm milk to the mushroom mix and stir continually, until it becomes fully incorporated. Repeat this step until all the milk has been used (don't worry about the bay leaf, you can fish it out later). Do not be tempted to do this step too fast or you may get lumps.
Once all the milk is added, you'll find you have a nice, fairly thick mix in your pot. Give it a final season before turning it out onto a tray and spread into a thin layer. Cover the top of the mix with a piece of plastic wrap to stop a crust forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature, before moving it to the fridge to cool completely - this is very important as, unless it's cold enough, it will not set properly and you'll find it too tricky to roll it into balls.
Once you are satisfied that it can't be any colder, use a spoon to scrape out some filling and roll the mix into 24 even balls (35 g each), remembering to remove that stray bay leaf once you find it. Make sure you have a little water on your hands each time, as this will make it easier to roll and the mix won't stick as much. As you finish rolling each one, place it on a floured tray. Once complete, put the tray back into the fridge to keep them cool while you set up a crumbing station.
Place your flour on a plate and season it nicely and then in a fairly wide mixing bowl, whisk together your eggs and milk, and place this bowl next to your plate of flour. Then, next to that on another plate, add your crumbs.
Get your crocchetta from the fridge and, in small batches and using your hands, roll each ball in the flour before gently placing them in the egg mixture. Lift out, letting any excess liquid drain off and roll about in the crumbs until completely covered. Place them on a tray to rest while you coat the others.
Fill a wide-based pot half full with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C. Fry the crocchetta in batches for about 3 minutes, at which stage they should be a golden colour. Pull them out of the oil and onto paper towel, season heavily and let them rest for a minute or so before serving. Serve with a lemon cheek.
• The crumbing stage of this recipe is very important. If you don't have a nice protective layer of crumbs around your crocchetta, you'll find that, as you fry them, they'll start to spurt out their filling.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.