By Tommy C. Simmons, an enthusiastic cook
Photograph by Tommy C. Simmons
When fresh peas start showing up at the farmers' markets, it's time to make old-fashioned Salmon Croquettes With Creamed Peas. The dish was a menu staple in blue-plate diners across the country. My favorite version was served at the Piccadilly Cafeterias, a popular cafeteria chain once located across the South and Midwest. I don't have their recipe, but have adapted a recipe from Trisha Yearwood's "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen" cookbook.
Like many comfort food dishes, Salmon Croquettes takes a while to make. This is a cooking project for a Sunday afternoon. Leftovers freeze well and can be reheated in a microwave. Enjoy.
Blue-plate classic Salmon Croquettes With Creamed Peas is another oldie-but-goodie dish.
Home kitchen-tested recipe
Salmon Croquettes With Creamed Peas
Serves 6 to 8. Adapted recipe is from "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen" by Trisha Yearwood with Gwen Yearwood and Beth Yearwood Bernard.
3 tbls. butter
4 tbls. finely chopped Vidalia onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
2 tsps. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper and cayenne pepper
3 packets of pink salmon (about 15 ozs.), drained and flaked
1½ cups Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
2 lbs. fresh green peas, shelled
3 tbls. salted butter
2 tbls. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
3 cups cooking oil for frying
To make the Croquettes:
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened. Use a whisk to stir in 1/3 cup flour. Cook for 1 minute, and then stir in ½ cup milk. Cook until the mixture is very thick, stirring constantly for a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and seasoning. (The mixture is pastelike at this point).
Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and then stir in the flaked salmon. Shape the mixture into small balls or cones.
Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Mix the beaten eggs with ¼ cup water.
Double coat the croquettes by rolling in the breadcrumbs, then in the egg mixture and then in the crumbs again. Place each coated croquette on a baking sheet. Cover the croquettes and set them aside.
To make Creamed Peas:
Bring 1 cup slightly salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook until smooth and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the 2 cups milk and continue cooking on medium heat, stirring often. Add the seasonings and cook until the white sauce for the peas is smooth and thick. Stir in the cooked peas and keep warm while you fry the croquettes.
To fry the Croquettes:
Heat the cooking oil to 375 degrees in a deep, heavy pot. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Add a few croquettes at a time to the hot oil and cook until golden brown.
Drain the croquettes on paper towels and keep them warm in the oven as you fry the remaining croquettes. Make sure the oil returns to 375 degrees before adding and cooking more croquettes, or they will be heavy and greasy.
To serve: Put a couple of croquettes on a plate and spoon the Creamed Peas over. Serve hot.
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