3 of a Kind: Savory Beignets

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

Few can resist the siren call of sizzling fried dough, whether it comes in the shape of a fritter, a doughnut or some other old-school treat. One such confection that has received renewed attention in recent years is the beignet, which is essentially the French version of a fritter. Pastry chefs are tweaking the traditional recipe in ingenious ways to transform the sugary snack into something more akin to a salty appetizer. Here are a few spots serving savory beignets.

Crawfish Beignets at Trinity Restaurant, New Orleans

Opened in May 2016, this recent addition to the city’s buzzing restaurant scene has already attracted attention for its modern New Orleanian cuisine turned out by Chef Michael Isolani. Among his repertoire of reimagined NOLA classics is a creative riff on the beignet. Since New Orleans is crawdad and beignet town, Isolani decided to honor the Big Easy’s favorite food items by combining them. He fills his savory beignets with succulent crawfish and nutty fontina cheese, then brightens the rich puffs with tarragon aioli.

Sweet Potato Beignets at République, Los Angeles

This modern French restaurant brings together the best of the Old World and the New World to create its sweet potato beignets. This autumn-inspired dish combines sweet potatoes with Hook’s cheddar cheese and a jalapeno aioli to infuse the bite with an enticing blend of sweet, salty and spicy flavors. You can savor these glorious snacks in the most glamourous of settings, as République is housed in a cathedral-like building that originally served as the offices of film icon Charlie Chaplin back in the late 1920s.

Parisian Gnocchi at Le Fond, Brooklyn

Ever since he opened the doors to his chic Greenpoint bistro in 2014, Chef Jacob Eberle has offered savory cheese beignets. Eberle recently changed the name of this signature dish on the menu, though, and now refers to the globes as Parisian gnocchi. “They’re the doughnut hole of the beignet world,” says Eberle, “but they’re the same thing at heart.”

These small spheres are made from the same choux pastry (milk, butter, flour, eggs) as a traditional beignet, but the dough is then combined with one particularly indulgent add-in: Gruyère cheese. After being cut into Tater Tot-sized pieces, the morsels are fried to golden perfection. The result is a perfectly crisp exterior with a gooey, molten center. Each order is served with smoked paprika aioli and Bayonne ham, which is essentially the French version of prosciutto.

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Photos courtesy of République, Le Fond and Trinity Restaurant

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