Food & Drink

Blue Crab Beignets

Two beloved New Orleans foods come together in one knockout party bite

photo: Courtesy of La Petite Grocery


Ordinarily, during Mardi Gras and the weeks leading up to Lent, blue crab is a fixture on restaurant menus in New Orleans. This year, however, the seafood staple was noticeably absent due to a 30-day commercial crabbing ban, which was put into effect by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at the end of February to protect the health of the fishery. When the ban ended last week, Crescent City chefs, including Justin Devillier, executive chef and owner of La Petite Grocery, were eager to get fresh local crabs back on the menu. “I wish I had the time to catch them myself,” says the avid fisherman and hunter. “But we have fantastic crabbers who fish all day.”

Among his favorite dishes to make with the sweet, tender shellfish are these blue crab beignets, which have been a standout at La Petite Grocery since 2007, and are surprisingly home-cook friendly. No fresh blue crabs near you? No worries. Devillier says the recipe is easily adapted. “In southeast Louisiana, we get blue crabs at the pinnacle of freshness,” he says, “but I would recommend selecting the finest of what’s available in your region, whether that’s stone crabs in Florida or peekytoe in the mid-Atlantic.” Serve with a side of remoulade for dipping. “Any mayonnaise-based dip with some acidity will work really well.”


Ingredients

    • 1/2 small shallot, finely chopped

    • 6 oz. fresh blue crabmeat, picked over

    • 1/3 cup mascarpone

    • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives

    • Kosher salt, to taste

    • Vegetable oil for frying (about 4 cups, more if needed)

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour

    • 1/3 cup cornstarch

    • 1 tbsp. baking powder

    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more

    • 1 cup amber lager


Preparation

  1. When ready to fry, pour oil into a Dutch oven or saucepan fitted with a clip-on deep-fry thermometer to a depth of at least 3 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat until temperature registers 375°.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in beer, just to blend (batter will be thick).

  3. Measure one heaping tbsp. crab mixture, roll into a ball, and drop into batter. Using a fork, toss to coat, then lift from batter, letting excess drip back into bowl. Working in batches of about four and returning oil to 375° each time, carefully lower beignets into oil to avoid crowding. Fry, turning occasionally, until crisp and deep golden brown, about four minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season with salt.

Recipe from Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery in New Orleans


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