Blue Crab Beignets

These savory beignets are a staple at my restaurant, La Petite Grocery. They're a cross between a Mediterranean cod fritter and a crab-stuffed Louisiana beignet and it's the reason LPG is as popular as it is today.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 45 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Ingredients

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cold amber lager

1/2 cup mascarpone

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

6 ounces blue crab meat, fresh and picked over

3 cups peanut oil, for frying

Flaky salt, for serving

Lemon slices, for serving

Aioli, for serving, see recipe in Step 4

Aioli

1 clove garlic

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

Lemon juice, to taste

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Beignet batter: In a mixing bowl, whisk baking powder, cornstarch, salt, and flour to combine. Gradually whisk in beer and continue stirring until no lumps remain and the batter yields a ribbony texture. Set aside.
  2. Crab filling: In a bowl, mix mascarpone, chives, and shallot until thoroughly combined. Season with salt to taste. Fold in the crab meat, separating without breaking up the individual lumps, and gently mix just to combine. Chill for 10–15 minutes. (In the meantime, prepare the aioli: see Step 4 for instructions.)
  3. Frying the beignets, part 1: Fill a heavy-bottomed cast-iron pot ¾ full with peanut oil (about 3 cups) and heat oil to 375 F. Roll 1–1½ tablespoon-sized balls of the crab mixture and use a spoon to drop them on top of the beer batter. Make sure the oil is ready by dropping in a few beads of batter to see if they fry.
  4. Frying the beignets, part 2: When the oil is ready, gently roll the crab balls in the batter to coat completely; leaving holes will cause the mascarpone to melt out. Lift the balls from the batter and let them slide off the spoon into the oil. Fry until crisp and deep golden brown, about 4 minutes. (You may have to fry in batches.) As you fry, continually adjust the heat to keep the temperature at 375 F.When the beignets are done, use the spider strainer to place them on paper towels to drain. Prepare a serving plate with a layer of aioli; place beignets on the aioli, sprinkle with flaky salt, and serve with lemon slices. Aioli recipe: Roughly chop garlic clove on cutting board; add ½ tablespoon salt and use the back of a knife to repeatedly press the garlic and salt together to make a paste. Place in a bowl along with a squeeze of lemon and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Whisk in 2 egg yolks, then slowly drizzle in a ½ cup olive oil, whisking the entire time until emulsified and creamy. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.