I don’t do much frying; it’s not the healthiest way to cook, and although I have none of the modern-day fatophobia, I think my love of all things bacon keeps me quite well supplied. Also, it’s the parsimonious Yankee in me: I hate waste, of any kind, and using a couple of cups of oil once, then simply throwing it away – well, let’s just say that I’ll generally try to find a way around that. I know that I could filter and reserve the frying oil, for more frying, but then again… I don’t fry much. It’s a catch-22.
For this recipe? For this recipe I may just have to change my non-frying ways. As fried food goes, it’s pretty healthy: heirloom beans, organic local cornmeal and wheat flour, fresh parsley from the farmer’s market, pastured organic egg and heart-healthy grapeseed oil. Besides all that, these are pretty darn delicious. The spices and herbs can be easily modified for your flavor preference of the day, and the crispy fritters make a great foil for all those marmalades and chutneys cluttering up the pantry.
- 2 cups cooked flageolet beans (or other creamy white bean)
- 1/4 cup whole milk or cream
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and quartered
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal (see Options)
- 3 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro, in season)
- 1 and 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander (omit if using cilantro)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne or other spicy chile pepper
- grated zest and juice of 1 small lime (or 1/2 large lime)
- grapeseed or safflower oil, for frying
- salsa, chutney or your favorite dipping sauce for serving
- Combine 1 and 1/2 cups of beans with the milk and shallot in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping a few times if necessary.
- In a large bowl, mash the remaining 1/2 cup of beans with a potato masher until they are a chunky paste. Add bean/milk mixture and all remaning ingredients (except oil). Mix well. The texture should resemble oatmeal; add additional buttermilk or cornmeal if necessary.
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
- Add oil to a heavy skillet or saucepan until it is 1/2-inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot and shimmering, but not smoking. Drop a test fritter in, using a scant teaspoon of batter. The batter should hold its shape and produce a lively sizzle; if it smokes and burns, the oil is too hot. Turn down the heat and begin again. Drop scant tablespoonfuls of batter into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. Fry for about one minute, or until you see a golden brown edge start to form along the outside of the fritter; carefully flip over with tongs and fry for about one minute on the other side. (I found a kitchen timer was helpful here so that I did not burn the fritters. I used my smallest saucepan, and fried in multiple batches, in order to cut down on oil waste. If you don’t have my Yankee wastophobia, feel free to use a larger pan!) Remove fritters to drain on paper towels; then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate in the preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat until batter is gone. Serve immediately with your favorite accompaniments.
Yields about 36 fritters, serving about 4 – 6 people for dinner or 8 – 12 people for appetizers.
- The original recipe called for 1 cup of cornmeal, 1/3 cup AP flour and 1/2 cup buttermilk. I ran out of cornmeal, so I used: 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/4 cup wheat germ and 1/4 cup whole wheat bread flour (plus the stated 3 tbsp of WW pastry flour above). I cut the buttermilk back to 1/4 cup so I would not have to add extra flour; I did not want the fritters to taste too floury. I do think that even if I had had enough cornmeal, 1/2 cup of buttermilk would have required additional flour to achieve the right consistency in the batter.
- The original recipe called for Yellow Indian Woman beans (also available at Rancho Gordo). Navy beans would be an acceptable substitute, or any creamy white bean; navy beans are available locally at Cayuga Pure Organics.
- This recipe can be entirely local, if you omit the lime and with the rather important exception of the frying oil. As tasty as these would be fried in bacon grease, I think my heart and my wallet will thank me for making the exception!
- The recipe suggests classic red salsa for serving; I found these especially good with Apple Carrot Chile Chutney and Curried Apple Chutney.
Best eaten fresh. I’m wondering how the batter would hold up to freezing; I’ll definitely be making these again, so once I try it, I’ll report back.