Coxinha means ‘little thigh’, and these delicious Brazilian chicken and cream cheese stuffed croquetas are vaguely chicken-thigh-shaped. They are a little time-consuming and fiddly to make, so this recipe makes a generous quantity. You can also prepare the filling and dough ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours before you shape them, thus spreading the work out a little.
Place the butter and oil in a deep saucepan and set it over a medium-low heat to melt. Add the onion and cook gently for around 20 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Scoop out half the onion mixture into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
Add the carrot to the remaining onion in the pan and fry for a further 10 minutes before pouring in the stock and adding the bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and add the chicken thigh fillets, pressing them under the surface as best you can. Cover with a lid and simmer steadily for around 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. While the chicken is cooking, mix the cream cheese, lime juice and zest through the cooled cooked onion and season well with salt and pepper.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove to a plate to cool a little, reserving the stock, then shred the meat into pieces and set aside to until cold. Once cold, add to the bowl with the cream cheese and onion mixture, stirring well to combine.
For the dough, strain the chicken stock through a fine sieve into a measuring jug, and top up with cold water until you have 500ml again. Pour the stock into a clean pan, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Once it’s simmering steadily, gradually add the flour, stirring constantly until you have a really stiff dough. Tip on to a clean worktop and allow to cool for 15 minutes or so, until you can knead it without burning your hands. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth. Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to cool completely. Once cold, chill in the fridge for an hour (longer is fine).
To form the coxinhas , cut the dough into 16 even-sized pieces. I find the easiest way to do this is to cut the ball in half, then half again, and so on – the dough should be firm but still malleable. Roll each piece into a ball, then, using a rolling pin, flatten them into discs about 10cm in diameter and 5mm thick. Take a generous teaspoon of the filling and place in the centre of one disc, then draw the sides up and over the filling so they meet at the top like a little purse. Pinch and squeeze the top to form a point; it should look like a little fat pear. Place on a baking tray and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Line up the beaten egg in one bowl and the breadcrumbs in another. Dip each coxinha into the egg to coat all over, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat until they are all coated in breadcrumbs. Preheat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 170°C/340°F and fry in batches until crisp and a deep golden colour, about 6–7 minutes per batch. Serve while still hot.