At the Table

A New Way to Beignet

By: Erin Byers Murray

Blue crab takes a turn in a savory rendition of a New Orleans classic

For 20 years, New Orleans’ La Petite Grocery has been paying homage to traditional regional dishes, always with an emphasis on letting fresh, seasonal ingredients speak for themselves. When it comes to seafood, partner and director of culinary Justin Devillier, who took ownership of the restaurant in 2010, doubles down on that ethos, showcasing whatever daily local catch he’s getting in with the simplest preparations possible—this especially holds true with a menu fixture, blue crab beignets.

In 2009, Devillier was looking for something crispy to go alongside a red fish court-bouillon, a classic Southern Louisiana seafood stew. He came across a French recipe for a salt cod fritter, which he decided to play on using regional blue crab instead. “People went crazy for that fritter more so than the court-bouillon, so we started serving a handful of them as an appetizer,” he says. 

“I wanted it to be really crab forward,” he says. Instead of mixing the blue crab into the batter as he might have done with a fritter, he combines the crab meat with mascarpone, shallot, and chive, rolls it into a ball, and dips it into the light, beer-based batter. “The batter makes this really airy, crispy crust that just encapsulates the filling,” he says. Getting the batter just right is key. It needs to be viscous enough to stick to the filling, not too dense or too loose. It’s also a tricky frying process, he explains, but using a spoon helps. “You can use the spoon to basically dollop them into the fryer with a little bit of the batter,” he says. The result is an ethereally light and creamy bite that allows nothing but crab to shine through.

Justin Devillier’s Blue Crab Beignet Recipe

Blue Crab Beignets
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