DUNGENESS CRAB AND SWEET PEA BEIGNETS WITH NETTLE BUTTERMILK DRESSING
IngredientsServes 16 Beignets or serves 4
NETTLE BUTTERMILK DRESSING:
4 oz (125 g) fresh stinging nettles* (optional)
4 to 6 tbsp (60 to 90 ml) olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) mayonnaise
7 tbsp (105 ml) buttermilk
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
1½ tsp (7 ml) ground coriander
1½ tsp (7 ml) smoked paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) cayenne
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ lb (125 g) sweet green peas
1 cup (250 ml) self-rising cake flour
1 cup (250 ml) coarse cornmeal
½ to 1 cup (125 to 250 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt
1 tsp (5 ml) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander
2 large eggs
2 medium-size shallots, finely diced
½ cup (125 ml) homogenized milk
¼ cup (60 ml) buttermilk
1 tbsp (15 ml) rendered duck or bacon fat
4 tbsp (60 ml) basil, finely shredded
2 tbsp (30 ml) mint, finely shredded
2 lemons, zest only
¾ cup (175 ml) Dungeness crabmeat, shells removed
8 cups (2 L) canola, peanut or grape seed oil
- To make NETTLE BUTTERMILK: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with salt. If using nettles, wear gloves or use tongs to place in boiling water, as they will sting. Blanch nettles, or greens, until wilted and vibrant green, about 1 minute. Strain and place in an ice-water bath to stop cooking. Drain, squeeze out excess water and pat dry with paper towel.
- In a blender or food processor, whirl nettles and olive oil to a smooth purée. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and buttermilk. Add remaining dressing ingredients along with nettle purée and whisk together to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made a day ahead.
- To make Beignets, preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and a plate with paper towel, and set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch peas for 30 seconds. Then strain and place in an ice-water bath to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
- Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and stir together to blend.
- In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs with an electric mixer. Add shallots, milk, buttermilk, rendered fat, basil, mint and lemon zest.
- Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, a third at a time. Once incorporated, fold in peas and crabmeat.
- Using a deep pot or deep fryer, heat canola oil to 350 F (180 C). Using a 1 oz (30 g) trigger scoop or a tablespoon, gently drop a few spoons of beignet batter, one at a time, into oil. Fry half a batch at a time for 4 to 6 minutes, until nice and golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate to drain before starting the second batch. Allow oil to heat back up to 350 F (180 C). When all beignets have been browned, transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and place in preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes, ensuring they are cooked through. Serve with Nettle Buttermilk Dressing.
- *If using nettles, they must always be cooked. If nettles are unavailable, substitute baby spinach or any bitter green.