Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Il Talismano della Felicita: Crocchette di Tonno

Crocchette di Tonno

Recipe by Ada Boni

Yield: 20 croquettes

  • 150 g. Tuna packed in oil
  • 50 g. Butter
  • 50 g. Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • Fine bread crumbs
  • Oil or lard for frying

Cooking Directions
  1. Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When melted add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, for a few minutes. The mixture will be extremely thick. Do not allow the flour to brown. In another pan warm the milk to just short of a simmer.

  2. Really Thick B├ęchamel

  3. Reduce the heat to low (you don't want the milk to boil instantly). Whisking continuously, add the milk in a slow stream. Continue whisking and cook over low heat until you have a very thick B├ęchamel, about 10 minutes. It will be really thick - almost impossible to whisk.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the finely minced tuna, a big pinch of pepper, and the finely chopped parsley. Mix well. Do not add salt.
  5. When all the ingredients are well combined, turn the mixture out into a small bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

  6. Ada Boni's recipe says to turn the mixture out onto a marble slab dusted with flour and allow it to cool completely. Few of us both a) have a marble slab in the kitchen and b) live in a house with 2 foot thick stone walls that's chilly even in the summer. Just stick it in the 'fridge.

  7. When the mixture is fully set up transfer it to a lightly floured board, dust it with flour and gently roll it into a cylinder shape. Cut the cylinder into four equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll them into smaller cylinders about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut each cylinder into 5 finger size croquettes.
  8. Chilled Mixture
    Roll Into A Log
    Cut into 4 Pieces and roll each out
    And cut into finger size croquettes
  9. Gently dip each croquette into the beaten egg and then coat with bread crumbs. I used panko. This might be one of the very few places where it might be OK to use those fine dry breadcrumbs from the grocery store.
  10. Fry 'em!
  11. Fry the croquettes in very hot oil, drain on paper towels, and serve immediately.


Oil or Lard - In Italy that means extra virgin olive oil or, well, lard. Rendered pork fat. If you can possibly justify the cost, use EVOO. But, if you live in an agricultural part of the country or otherwise have easy access to lard, USE IT. It's much more flavorful than vegetable oil and is traditional in many parts of Italy.

Tuna - don't even attempt this recipe with supermarket canned tuna. It is well worth the effort to find Italian "tonno sott'olio" - "tuna under oil" or even to make your own. As is often the case with Italian recipes, the main ingredient, here tuna, is front and center so you want the best tasting product you can get.

Here in Philadelphia both the Callipo and Flott brands are readily available. Note that Flott has a 5.5 ounce can that's just the right size for this recipe - do not be tempted! They put the random bits in the cans just like the regular supermarket tuna. You want the kind where you can see what you're getting - actual chunks of fish.

Salt - the recipe as written calls for no additional salt. For modern American taste it needs some. Season lightly as the croquettes come out of the oil and you'll be OK.


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