I like cooking with native ingredients for Australia Day. It gives me pause to reflect on the Traditional Owners of this land, give thanks for their custodianship and recognise their knowledge. I had great success with my first ever batch of croquettes (though I’m regretting I didn’t write down what I did, so I’ve lost the chance to post the recipe). When I bought a batch of frozen kangaroo tail online from Something Wild, I thought I’d like to make a different version, with sweet potato and pepperberry.
I was overjoyed when I friend of mine posted me bunches of native kunzea that he bought for me from Provenance Growers at the Hobart Farm Gate Market. This is a seriously incredible herb. It has an incredible menthol flavour, but is also a lot like thyme, with a hint of rosemary. I intended to serve my croquettes with a kunzea mayonnaise but I couldn’t resist putting the fresh herb inside the croquettes. I’m so glad I did. In addition to the pepperberry and kunzea, I added the last of my saltbush for a little extra herbaceous seasoning.
The croquettes are amazing. When you reduce down the cooking juices to a rich jelly, you have the perfect sauce accompaniment, along with a good mayonnaise. In recognition of the relationship to country, to place, I served them with accompaniments from the earth: a mix of radishes, quick pickled raw beetroot and wild purslane that I foraged myself. The radishes provide good bitey crunch and contrasting colour, the pickled beetroot the required sharpness for the dish, and the purslane something green and fresh.
You can cook these in stages: the roo tail one day, combine with the sweet potato and herbs another, shape and crumb on another. You can easily freeze the croquettes once you’ve crumbed them, and fry them as you like. I think they’re a great meal to have a in the freezer.
Croquettes (makes approximately 20)
|1||bunch||kunzea, leaves picked (about ½ cup leaves)|
|salt, to taste|
|macadamia oil, for frying|
To serve (per person)
|2||quick pickled baby beetroot|
|1||cup||purslane or cress|
Place the roo tails in a large pot with lots of water and bring to the boil, remove the scum from the surface of the water. Add the whole pepperberry leaves and pepperberries, reduce the heat and simmer gently for at least four hours, or till the meat is falling from the bones. Leave the meat to cool in the liquid. When it’s cool enough to touch, remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones and shred the meat. Strain the cooking liquid and set aside.
Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into pieces and steam them till they are falling apart. Allow the sweet potato to steam dry and press them through a sieve or mash them.
Combine the shredded meat with mashed sweet potato. Add the herbs and season with salt to taste. Season with salt to taste. Feel free to add freshly ground pepperberry to taste.
Add the beaten egg to the sweet potato mixture. Mix thoroughly.
Reduce the strained cooking liquid from the roo tails to a thick syrup.
To from the croquettes, set up three bowls: one containing the flour, one containing the beaten egg, the other the breadcrumbs. Take a heaped tablespoon of croquette mixture and shape it into a log. Gently coat it in flour, then egg, the breadcrumbs. Leave the croquette to rest in the breadcrumbs for them to completely stick. Then return the croquette to the egg, then the breadcrumbs again leaving it in the crumbs for them to stick. Repeat with all the croquettes. At this point refrigerate or freeze any croquettes you don’t want to cook immediately.
To cook the croquettes, heat enough macadamia oil in a pan so the oil will come halfway up the side of the croquettes. When the oil is hot enough that a breadcrumb gently sizzles as soon as it’s dropped in the pan, add the croquettes and gently fry them, turning them around, till golden all over. Remove from the oil and drain on a wire rack.
To serve, slice the radishes and arrange on the plate with the greens. Drizzle on some of the reduced cooking liquid, squeeze on some mayonnaise and add some sliced pickled baby beets. Add the croquettes to the middle of the plate and serve.