Kit Wohl recipe: Justin Devillier's Louisiana blue crab beignets

Now that we’ve had a taste of beignet versatility at the first Beignet Festival or if you missed it, here’s the recipe that helped Justin Devillier be named as 2016 Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation. Justin and Mia, his wife, own and operate their La Petite Grocery on Magazine Street.

This recipe is courtesy of Kit Wohl's Cookbook Studio and her book New Orleans Classic Appetizers (Pelican Publishing). Kit appears regularly in the kitchen on the Sunday edition of Eyewitness Morning News, Sundays at 6 a.m.


Savory beignets are a takeoff on the sugared variety. Chef Justin makes them with crabmeat but shrimp or crawfish would also be delicious. Prepare the garlic aioli first, cover and let stand, since you’ll want to serve the beignets while they’re hot.

1/4 pound jumbo lump crab meat (preferably Louisiana blue crabs)
1/4 pound Mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 French shallot, finely minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose white flour (preferably Wondra instant flour)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup beer
2 quarts peanut oil or good quality vegetable oil, for frying

1. In a medium mixing bowl, thoroughly mix crab meat, Mascarpone, chives, shallot, and salt and pepper. Shape into small balls approximately the diameter of a quarter and refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and beer until mixed well but still lumpy.
3. In an electric deep-fryer or heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil to 375 degrees.
4. Dredge the chilled crab meat balls through the flour mixture, taking care to coat them completely. Add them gently, one at a time, to the heated oil so that they don’t touch. Be careful not to burn yourself.
5. Fry the crab balls until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove them with a sieve or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Serve with Roasted Garlic Aioli for dipping.

YIELDS 1 cup

2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup olive oil

Blend all ingredients together except the oil. Slowly pour in both oils and blend well.

Courtesy of Kit Wohl's Cookbook Studio and her book New Orleans Classic Appetizers (Pelican Publishing). Kit appears regularly in the kitchen on the Sunday edition of Eyewitness Morning News, Sundays at 6 a.m.


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