Manchego and corn fritters
These simple corn fritters can form the cornerstone of a tapas-style feast. Pair with Neil Perry's spicy octopus salad.
Tear off small cherry-tomato-sized pieces of the fritter mix and deep fry them to create rustic-looking mini fritters. Photo: William Meppem
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For capsicum jam
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup good-quality sherry vinegar
2 large deseeded red capsicum, thinly sliced
1 cup milk
1 fresh bay leaf, gently bruised to release aroma
1/2 thyme sprig
1 small clove garlic, crushed with back of knife
1 whole clove
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup plain flour
1 heaped tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
1 large cup fresh corn kernels
1/3 cup manchego cheese, finely grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
plain flour, for crumbing
1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk, for crumbing
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
For the jam, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and stir occasionally until soft and just starting to colour - about 5 minutes. Add sugar and salt and cook until it starts to caramelise. Deglaze with vinegar, and then add the capsicum, stirring frequently on low heat for about 1-11/2 hours until the mixture is jammy in consistency. Check seasoning. The jam is best served at room temperature but can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
To make the béchamel, combine milk, herbs, garlic and clove in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stand for 1 hour and let flavours infuse. Strain into a clean saucepan and warm over low heat.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add flour and stir constantly for a few minutes, until sandy in colour. Gradually add infused warm milk, a ladleful at a time, whisking after each addition, to incorporate. Then cook, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until thick and smooth. This will take 3-5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm covered in cling film or baking paper to avoid a skin forming on top.
To make the fritters, melt butter in a frying pan over low heat and cook onion until soft and translucent. Add the corn and cook for a further 5 minutes or until soft. Process two-thirds of corn mixture in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and fold through the remaining corn mixture, manchego and béchamel. Season to taste. Spread on a tray and refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm.
Place flour, egg mixture and crumbs in separate bowls. Once fritter mix is firm, roll into egg-sized pieces and flatten slightly. Dip into the flour, then egg mix and then crumbs, shaking off excess. Repeat with remaining mix.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180°C. As soon as fritter mix is placed into the oil, it should start to bubble. Fry in batches for 2-3 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Drain on paper towel. Serve with capsicum jam and bocadillos (see Hot Tips).
- Turn a relaxed Sunday lunch into a tapas party by adding a delicious fresh bocadillo (baguette) filled with mortadella, salami or prosciutto, bitter radicchio leaves or shaved cos, and a sharp citrus dressing or a dollop of aioli. Don't forget the sangria!
- Instead of forming the fritter mix into disc-shaped patties, tear off small cherry-tomato-sized pieces and deep fry them to create rustic-looking mini fritters - perfect for serving at parties.
- The capsicum jam is terrific served with just about anything - barbecue lamb cutlets, roast chicken or on a steak sandwich.
- Recipe for the spicy octopus salad.
Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.