Crab Beignets with Ravigote Sauce

Crab Beignets with Ravigote SauceThese fluffy, light-weight beignets—or fritters, as we say in English—make a perfect party snack. Whether piping hot or at room temperature, they are fabulous enjoyed as finger food, dipped in an accompanying ravigote sauce. The French-inspired ravigote is really a cross between an aioli and a tartar sauce—in this instance freshened up with shallots and fresh chervil. If you can’t locate fresh chervil, substitute fresh tarragon.

For the sparkling wine in this recipe, we generally use Chandon Brut Classic, but any dry bubbly will suffice. The wine not destined for the batter will serve as an excellent libation for you and your guests. 

1 cup/130 g all-purpose/plain flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup/180 ml sparkling wine

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 cup/120 ml extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup/120 ml canola oil, plus more for frying

1 tbsp minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil

12 oz/340 g fresh Dungeness or other lump crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments and cartilage

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/2 tsp salt. Separate 1 of the eggs and add the yolk to the bowl with the flour mixture; place the white in a medium bowl. Add the sparkling wine to the flour mixture and whisk until well blended and a smooth batter forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the bubbles in the wine to raise the batter (it should about rise to about half again its size in bulk).

While the batter is rising, make the ravigote sauce: Separate the second egg. Put the white in the bowl with the other egg white and put the yolk in another medium bowl. Add the Dijon mustard and 1 tsp of the vinegar to the yolk and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the oils in a fine, steady stream until a thickened and emulsified sauce forms. Whisk in the remaining 1 tsp vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the shallots and chervil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To finish the beignets, pour canola oil into a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan with tall sides to a depth of 1–1 1/2 in/2.5–4 cm. Place the pan over medium-high heat and heat until the oil begins to shimmer. While the oil is heating, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the beignet batter. Fold in the crabmeat gently just until combined.

When the oil is shimmering or showing some small bubbles, lower tbsp-size dollops of the crab batter into the hot oil (avoid crowding the pan) and fry until puffed and golden brown, 3–5 minutes. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to flip the beignets at least once, or several times, if necessary, to prevent burning on either side.

When the beignets are done, transfer to paper towels/absorbent papers to drain. Let the oil return to shimmering hot between batches. Arrange on a large serving plate and serve at once with the ravigote dipping sauce on the side.

Makes 15–20 beignets; serves 4–8



In a small sauté pan, over medium-low heat, combine the 1/2 cup chervil leaves with the 1/2 cup olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil is hot and small bubbles form around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Strain the chervil-infused oil through a fine-mesh sieve, save and reserve. Discard the chervil.
In a soup pot, heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and red bell pepper and sauté for 3 minutes longer. Add the stock, clam juice, wine, and 1 tsp salt, and mix well. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels from the ears of corn. Add the corn kernels to the soup and simmer until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crab and cook for 2 more minutes to heat through. Stir in the cream and remove from heat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Ladle the bisque into warm bowls. Swirl 1/2 to 1 tsp chervil oil into each serving and garnish with the 2 tbsp chervil leaves. Serve hot.