Dutch people love a croquette ("kroket") and so it was only a matter of time before I attempted making one!
The Dutch croquette is typically eaten on a bread roll with mustard or mayo, and is sizeable enough to be a light lunch. The outside should be crispy and the inside quite liquid and oozy, so that when you crunch it in your bread roll it becomes a mess of sauce and crunchy bits. Many croquettes aren't vegetarian of course, and the standard vegetarian version is usually something like potato-and-mixed-veg.
This version is inspired by a flavour combination we saw on TV - pea and dill - and it's lovely and light, fresh, and spring-y. Should I confess that we saw it on the Dutch version of Bake-off?
Chop the potatoes into medium-sized cubes and put them in a big pan of hot water. Bring it to the boil and boil the potatoes for 15 minutes. You can prepare everything else while the potatoes are boiling - there's no need to worry about the potatoes too much, they need to be just need to be properly softened to make a soft mash. When the potatoes are done you can just drain them and leave them until you're ready.
Meanwhile, make a white sauce. In a saucepan on a medium heat, melt the vegan butter and add the flour. Stir this all around with a whisk and cook it for about 5 minutes, keeping it moving, until the raw flour smell has gone (careful not to burn). It should be quite a thick goo in the pan. Add a bit of the plant milk and mix it with the whisk, then a bit more, then all the plant milk, and make sure everything is evenly mixed. Allow it to continue to cook gently for a little while, while you prepare the flavourings. This should be quite a thick white sauce - it needs to be fairly thick so that it will hold its shape later.
Now is a good time to finely chop the dill, chives, mint and leek, if you haven't already.
The potatoes should be done and drained. Return them to the big pan you cooked them in, and mash them with a potato masher. Then add the peas and mash a bit more, to crush them lightly and distribute them through.
Add the dill, chives, mint, leek, and salt and pepper to the white sauce, making sure it's all mixed quite evenly. Then pour the white sauce all into the mashed potato pot, and mix to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
Leave this to cool in the pan until it's cool enough to work by hand, probably 1 hour. At that point you can also taste to check the seasoning. I needed to add more dill and salt+pepper than I had originally expected.
Next, it's time to add the breadcrumb coating. Set up a "breading station": 3 bowls side-by-side, with (a) flour (b) egg/plant-milk (c) breadcrumbs. You now need to take portions of the main mixture, perhaps golf-ball sized, and form them into little cylinders. How you do that is up to you! We did it by hand, which is messy, for sure... Other people on the internet have used a piping bag. For the Dutch kroket it should be a few centimetres long, which is too long to be shaped using two spoons as seen in some other receipes.
Anyway, you make your little cylinders, then with each one you roll it in flour then egg/plantmilk then breadcrumbs, to get a good coating. You could repeat the egg and breadbrumb stages to get a thicker crust. You might be able to get away with just breadcrumbs, depending on how sticky your mixture is.
Put these breaded cylinders into the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up.
Using a deep fryer, or a pan fille dno more than 1/3 with vegetable oil, heat up the oil until it's hot. 180 C is the official temperature to use, but I don't have a way to measure that. Instead, I pop a tiny bit of the breadcrumb into the oil: it should be hot enough that the breadcrumb fizzles and floats to the top rather than just sinking. Then, put a batch of krokets carefully into the oil, and cook them for about 4 minutes. Make sure they're well-covered in oil. Be careful not to splash oil, and watch out for exploding krokets (which can sometimes happen, I'm told!). When they're nicely brown and crispy-looking all over, take them out and drain on kitchen paper, while you do the next batch.
OK! Now when your kroket is ready, serve it on a soft bread roll! This kroket does not go well with mustard, but a bit of mayo would be alright if that's what you like. But the delicate light flavour of the pea and dill should hopefully come through nicely!