Ah croquettes! I haven’t seen that word since I was at school and enjoying all the fruits and deliciousness of school dinners. Of course back then it wasn’t fancy croquettes made with sweet potato and garlic breadcrumbs, they were made with ashen grey potato and rolled in radioactive-orange ‘bread’ crumbs. Wonderful!
I used to love school dinners and I hold no love for those who say they were awful. Perhaps they were, but at least you got your 100% of cigarette ash requirement with your turkey dinosaurs (I went to a posh school, they shaped their turkey arsehole-and-eyelids into stegosauruses instead of non-descript Twizzlers, see).
We did have the stereotypical mean old dinner lady, though – Connie (naturally we called her Ronnie to annoy her), and she ruled the hall with an iron fist. Actually, not quite true, she’d had polio as a youngster and didn’t so much have an iron fist as a few ball-bearings. That’s cruel but true. Perhaps that’s why she was always so bloody mean to the kids, to stop them being mean to her…different perspective when you’re an adult. We just used to push past her, risking serious moustache burns, and get in before all the smelly little kids claimed all the chocolate orange tart.
I do remember once going to get my wallet out of my blazer and a condom that I had gallantly/optimistically (sensibly given what I was up to with my ‘close friend’ at the time, well not literally at the time, I had my eyes on the battered sausage) went flying out of the back of my pocket and into the canteen of baked beans in front of me. I got a strong talking to for that, though again in retrospect they should have advised me against using flavoured condoms. It was grape flavour and lurid purple and my friend and I had to get them from the toilets at Newcastle Airport in case anyone saw us.
I feel I should point out that my school was next to the airport – we didn’t have a day-trip out just to buy battercatchers.
It must have been a fairly posh school looking back, because I definitely remember after the pudding being allowed to go back to the canteen and getting cheese and coffee. Admittedly it was a lump of cheddar and a cup of Mellow Birds Brown Mountain Water but still, cheese and coffee at 13. In sixth form we naturally progressed to cigars, brandy and shooting metal pellets at poor folk. Pfft. I actually left sixth form because they tried to make us wear a suit to school . FIGHT THE POWER. Totally worth it.
Anyway, we’re spending the day emptying the green bedroom and the blue bedroom in preparation for turning them into a games room and utility room respectively. You can tell two fat blokes live in this house for sure. So I thought I’d rattle off this blog post early and give you a chance to gaze upon…THIS BEAUTY.
I know right? The two syns is actually for the sweet potato croquettes, so if you want, just have this with a salad or chips and make this syn-free. Salad or chips, it’s the curse of every fatty.
so you’ll be needing the following
for the croquettes
- six sweet potatoes
- one brown bread bun blitzed into breadcrumbs (6 syns, but you don’t use them all, so as this serves two, that’s two syns each)
- 1tsp of chopped sage, fresh or dried
for the marinara sauce
- two tins of chopped tomatoes, decent quality if you can get them – if not, add a pinch of sugar to take the acidity off the cheaper type
- 6 garlic gloves, peeled and cut into very thin slices
- pinch of crushed chilli flakes
- 1 tsp of salt
- nice sprig of fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
for the meatballs – take your pick from previous recipes:
- turkey and bacon meatballs
- turkey and feta meatballs
- pork meatballs
- or even, if you prefer, use the Slimming World meatballs. They’re not bad…
We used turkey and bacon meatballs because we had a bag of them rattling around in the freezer from the other day. ECONOMICAL
make the sweet potato croquettes first
- dice the sweet potatoes into thirds and put in the oven until the flesh is soft and the spirit is willing
- scoop out the flesh, add your sage and a bit of salt, mix it well until it’s nice and blended
- shape into cylinders around the size of 10 pound coins on top of each other, or a really disappointing one-night-stand
- roll in the breadcrumbs
- place on a non-stick tray and chuck them in the oven for maybe 20 seconds on 180 degrees, but keep an eye on them – you don’t want them to burn, after all, just dry out a little
Set your meatballs away whilst the potato is cooking – you can keep them to one side for later see
to make the marinara
- tip the tomatoes into a large bowl and using the back of a spoon (or your fingers, as long as you haven’t been picking your bum) and crush any particularly large lumps of tomato
- Frylight or lightly oil a pan and when the oil is warm, add the slivers of garlic
- as soon as that garlic starts sizzling (but not burning) add the tomatoes, herb, chilli and salt with another half tin of water
- if you’re using basil, place it on the top and let it wilt and drop down into the sauce
- cook low and slow – you’ll need the sauce to thicken, so it’ll be on a medium heat uncovered, stirring occasionally
- you want it really thick, so really be patient – add a bit of salt or more oregano if you think it needs it
- once you’re happy with it, get rid of the basil
Then it’s really just a case of cutting open a breadbun (your HEB), layering your healthy extra of cheese on the bottom, placing the meatballs on top of the cheese and then adding the marinara. Serve with a few croquettes and a dollop of marinara sauce for dipping and I’m telling you now, you’ll have a BLOODY GOOD MEAL.