These 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.
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. - Jeff Morgan
Adapted from the "Domaine Chandon Cookbook" by Jeff Morgan.
1 cup/130 grams all-purpose/plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup/180 milliliters sparkling wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup/120 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup/120 milliliters canola oil, plus more for frying
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil
12 ounces/340 grams fresh Dungeness or other lump crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments and cartilage
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Separate one 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/cling film and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the bubbles in the wine to raise the batter (it should 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 teaspoon of the vinegar to the yolk and whisk to combine. Slowly 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 teaspoon vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the shallot 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 to 1 1/2 inches/2.5 to 4 centimeters. 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 tablespoon-size dollops of the crab batter into the hot oil (avoid crowding the pan) and fry until puffed and golden brown, 3 to 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. Serve with ravigote dipping sauce on the side.