This savory version of classic beignets is perfect for holiday parties; crab and bacon make them a fan favorite. Harissa is a spicy red pepper sauce that can be found at upscale grocery stores and online. The harissa aioli sounds impressively difficult to make but is actually quite easy. The trick is to go slow in the beginning as you add the oil.
- Harissa Aioli
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons harissa
- 3 ounces (about 3 thick cut slices) bacon finely chopped
- 1 small shallot minced
- 6 ounces crab meat (not imitation)
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 3 cups oil for frying
- 1 1/2 cups beer
- Yield: 8-10 Servings
- Make the harissa aioli by first mincing garlic with the kosher salt. Then, using the side of a chef knife, smash the minced garlic into a paste. Place it in a medium sized bowl with the egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard. Beat the ingredients together with a balloon whisk. While continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle (a drop at a time in the beginning) the oil into the egg yolk mixture. Continue to drizzle the oil until it is complete incorporated into the egg yolks. Add the harissa and stir until uniform in color. Cover bowl and set aside while you make the beignets.
- Fry the bacon pieces until crispy in a 3-quart covered sauté pan, then remove the bacon from the pan and leave bacon fat in the pan. Place the cooking oil in the pan with the bacon fat and heat on medium high heat, until the oil reaches 375°F.
- While the oil heats up, place the bacon in a medium bowl with the shallot, crab meat, mascarpone cheese, chives, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper and stir until mixed thoroughly.
- Place the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and remaining 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a bowl and stir vigorously with a balloon whisk until well blended together. Add the beer and stir until a batter forms.
- Once the oil has heated up, adjust the heat to maintain the 375ºF temperature. Scoop a tablespoon of the crab and bacon mixture up and roll into a ball with your hands. Dip the ball in the batter with a fork, letting the then fry the ball in the oil for about 4 minutes, or until the outside of the beignet is golden brown. Repeat with the remaining crab and bacon mixture. Season the fried beignets with salt and serve with the harissa aioli for dipping.