Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Beignets

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

When it comes to eating, my policy can be roughly translated to carpe diem—I never want to miss out on a potentially delicious experience. Sadly, this was not the case when I visited New Orleans a number of years ago. I was a strict vegetarian then, and that meant that I missed out on almost all of the city's culinary offerings. I can't recall what I ate on that trip, but I can assure you it did not include gumbo, po'boys, or even red beans and rice for fear that there might be meat lurking somewhere in the mix.

The one and only eating experience that does resonate is beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde. The beignets were light, sweet, and incredibly messy from the heavy dusting of powdered sugar they were finished with. They were entirely memorable.

It had been a while since I thought about those ethereal beignets, and then I came upon John Besh's recipe in My New Orleans.

I decided to try Besh's version and see how they measured up to the beignets I had at Café du Monde. The dough was a simple affair, not too different from a yeasted dough used to make doughnuts. My attempt ended up a little less lacy and airy than the ones that I had eaten in New Orleans, but the flavors were all there and the beignets were crisp and almost caramelized on the outside and light within—just as messy and satisfying.

Win My New Orleans

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of My New Orleans to give away this week.

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