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Hedgerow Beignets

Hedgerow beignets

Harrison Brockington, Head Chef at Gather, shares a recipe that’s served on his tasting menus as an amuse-bouche to showcase wild greens

Ingredients

For the beignet centre

  • 200g hedgerow greens: hogweed, nettle, watercress (or just use 200g watercress)
  • 100g shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 55g Parmesan, finely grated

For the beignet batter

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 1 egg white, mixed to a light froth
  • 185g all-purpose flour (plus 50g extra for coating)
  • 40g sugar
  • 6g salt

For the crispy fennel topping

  • 50g wild fennel (dill or other herbs can be used instead)
  • Glug or two of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

For the herb mayonnaise

  • 500g unscented oil
  • 100g mixed soft herbs (fresh)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 15g Dijon mustard
  • 10g white wine vinegar
  • 25g hot water

Method

To make the beignet centre

  1. Sweat the greens and shallots in the butter and oil in a saucepan (covered with a lid) over a low heat for 40 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally until very tender.
  2. Season with salt and cool to room temperature.
  3. Finely chop the greens and, using your hands, mix in the cheese. Season to taste.
  4. Roll the mixture into 1-inch diameter balls, cover with cling film, and chill in the fridge until firm.

To make the beignet batter

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients, then pour in the milk and whisk together.
  2. Then, lightly fold in the whisked egg white.

To make the crispy fennel

  1. Fry the fennel in a little oil until crispy and season with salt.

To make the herb mayonnaise

  1. Blend the oil and herbs together, heat to 80°C, then strain. It should become a clear, green herb oil.
  2. Chill in the fridge.
  3. Whisk the two egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and hot water.
  4. While whisking, slowly add the herb oil.

To cook the beignets

  1. Heat a deep-fat fryer, or a pan’s worth of vegetable oil to 175°C.
  2. Roll the beignet centre in some flour, then, using a cocktail stick, dip it into the batter mix.
  3. Place into the hot oil, then use a spoon to baste the beignet to create an even golden-brown batter.
  4. After a few minutes, once they are an even golden-brown colour, remove from the fryer and lightly season.
  5. Serve the beignet on top of some herb mayonnaise and top with the fried fennel. Garnish with edible wildflowers (optional) and serve immediately.

NOTE: If you cannot identify any of the wild ingredients used in this recipe in the hedgerows, please use an alternative rather than forage for plants and herbs you are not sure of!

Recipe by Harrison Brockington

Head Chef

Gather, Totnes

www.gathertotnes.com

Harrison Brockington, Head Chef, Gather, Totnes

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