Omar Allihoy's Olives, piquillo peppers and Manchego cheese croquetas


50 g butter
½ small Spanish onion, finely chopped
100g of pitted green olives
50g of Manchego cheese
6 piquillo peppers
800 ml full-fat milk
60 g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tb sp salt
pinch of ground white pepper (ground black pepper will also do)
2 eggs
50 g breadcrumbs
vegetable oil for deep-frying


Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the chopped onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onion turns translucent but not coloured. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, bring the milk almost to boiling point and then set aside.

Add the flour to the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until the flour has toasted a bit. Add the hot milk little by little, whisking all the time, to make a thick roux. Keep going until you have added all the milk and you have a smooth and silky béchamel. When it comes back to the boil reduce the heat to low and add the whole peppers, the olives, the Manchego cheese, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Briefly blix using a hand blender but making sure all the ingredients still a bit coarse and don’t become a smooth puree. Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes, whisking to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Line the bottom of a baking tray with baking parchment and then pour the béchamel into the baking tray. Spread it out and let it cool for a few minutes and then place a layer of clingfilm directly on top, making sure the clingflim is touching the surface of the béchamel as this will stop a skin from form. Transfer to the fridge to chill completely.

After 2 hours the béchamel should be firm enough to handle. Turn the béchamel out on to a floured surface and carefully peel away the baking parchment. Sprinkle with a little more flour and use a knife to cut the béchamel into strips and then small squares, about 4 cm square. Dust your hands with flour and roll these little squares into balls between your hands.

Beat the egg in a bowl and spread the breadcrumbs out on a plate. Dip each ball in the egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs before placing on a clean plate. You can chill these in the fridge at this point, if you want to cook them later.

Heat the oil in a large deep pan until it reaches 180°C. If you don’t have a thermometer you can check if the oil is ready by dropping a small square of bread into the oil – it should turn golden in about 30 seconds. Fry the croquetas in small batches until they are golden and crisp (this should take about 1½ minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper while you cook the rest.