Sourdough-Pumpkin Beignets with Mexican Coke-Braised Pork Belly and Black Garlic Butter

posted in: Cooking, Savory, Sweet | 33

The best things in life are …………………………………………………………………………fried. It’s true. Maximum guilt is intrinsically linked to maximum pleasure. Sex is good, but sex in an elevator is better. You may feel guilty that old Mrs. Crotchet and her poodle caught you doing it doggie style when the lift doors opened too soon, but that makes it all the more memorable. And devilish. Which is equally true of these Halloween-themed beignets. They are Halloween-themed because they’re made of pumpkin and I served them with black garlic-maple butter. Note the trifecta of sweet sin:

  1. They’re delicious
  2. The black garlic wards off ghouls
  3. They get down with their orange and black selves

But I’m going to back up because there is a chance that you don’t know what a beignet is. A beignet is a fancy donut. I know you thought a doughnut was a fancy donut, and it is. The order is this: donut, then doughnut then beignet, with beignet being the fanciest. You have to eat this type of donut with your pinkie out, whereas a plain old donut is eaten clutched between two unmanicured, paw-like hands. You pair a donut with a flask of moonshine. You pair a beignet with a snifter of chartreuse and a navy beret. Doughnuts are somewhere in the middle. They’re for people who oscillate between political parties and adopt British accents after they’ve vacationed in the UK for three days. They serve doughnuts in purgatory, donuts in jail, and beignets in penthouse hotel rooms in Dubai.

Now that we’re clear on the distinctions, I should explain further that beignets are often square. Usually they’re just fried choux pastry (also called pets de nonnes or farts of nuns) but they are often yeasted as well. This is a good time to bring up the fact that the word “beignet” means “bump” in French. Can you think of other places you might see yeasty bumps? If you answered “what is ladybits for 1,000, Alex,” you are correct. The difference between these yeasty bumps and those adjacent to the anatomy of loose women, however, is that they don’t have holes. This also distinguishes them from donuts, although some doughnuts have been known to be hole-less also (maple bars, anyone?).

I filled these particular beignets with Mexican Coke-braised pork belly, and so they’re round rather than square. It’s much harder to fill a square. The logic behind braising pork belly in Mexican Coke is as follows:

Pork belly is the bees knees. It’s so good I bring it in the shower with me and rub it all over my body like an unctuous loofah. Mexican Coke is also straight dope. I mean the kind in a bottle, silly (but I’ve heard the other stuff is nice as well). I know that sometimes when you put two rights together it makes a wrong, but in this instance I cancelled that out by adding a bunch of other tasty shit in the mix like black garlic, Campari tomatoes and veal stock. Sure enough, my alchemy worked out because “cokebelly” as I’m dubbing it, is basically good enough that you’d eat it even if you had to lick it off David Hasselhoff’s shriveled happy stick.

The other really important part of this dish is the black garlic and maple butter component. You see I had to do something black so that I could successfully claim the Halloween card, and black garlic butter fit the bill because it adds yet another level of decadence to the dish. I mean, drenching fried, battered pork belly in additional butter? That’s three different types of fats in one mouthful! Can you think of anything more luscious?

Black garlic is nifty because it’s fermented. This takes the acerbic edge off and softens the flavor so it’s more earthy and sweet than a plain garlic clove. You could actually eat a clove of black garlic and then go play tonsil hockey with George Clooney and he wouldn’t mind, as long as you’re pretty, preferably Italian, and have nice boobies.

You know how people are always blathering on about how baking is an exact science? Coincidentally these people tend to be the same people who malign modernist cooking by spewing unfounded vitriol. It’s ironic because baking and modernist cooking have a lot in common in terms of precision measuring and things taking a really long time to perfect. They also share many ingredients, such as isomalt, invert sugar, specialty flours, fondant, xanthan gum and more. The dirty little secret of baking, however, is that it’s not so exact after all.

Unless the person who wrote the recipe you’re following lives in your house, there is going to be some variance in the final outcome. This is because of altitude, humidity, and cooking implements such as the type of oven or fryer.  I made these beignets with bread flour and Italian 00 flour based on the measurements below, but in terms of flour for beignets, always add just a little bit less than a recipe calls for, then knead, as too little flour is remedied by adding more, whereas too much results in excessively chewy beignets. You could also probably use all purpose flour with no real ill effects if you don’t want to search out specialty flours, I just find I like the suppleness that 00 flour adds.

Random, but I liked it. Titled "Toddler Streaks Past Beignet"

So if you’re looking for a pinkie-out recipe to add to your Halloween repertoire that will most certainly bring all the ghosts to the graveyard, this is it, lovelies. Just don’t kiss your mother with your greasy, satisfied lips right after. She might try to make out with you for the flavor, and that would just be weird.

Pumpkin Sourdough Beignets with Mexican Coke-Braised Pork Belly and Black Garlic Butter

Makes 20-30 beignets (depending how large you roll them)

Takes 1 hour active time, 3 hours inactive time

For the Beignet Dough

  • 1.5 c bread flour
  • 1.5 c 00 flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 c 100% saturation sourdough starter
  • 1 tsp rapid rise yeast
  • 1 c pumpkin puree (from a roasted pumpkin is better than canned, obviously, but you weren’t going to be that lazy anyway, right?)
  • ¼ c buttermilk
  • At least one quart of oil (peanut or canola) for deep-frying the beignets (I do this in a wok). You may need more oil if you’re using a deep-fryer.
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional, for dusting)

For the Pork Belly Filling

  • 1 lb quality pork belly, cut into 3 slabs (I use Berkshire Kurobuta)
  • ¼ c maple syrup
  • 1 bottle Mexican Coke
  • 8 black garlic cloves, halved
  • 6 Campari tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • 1.5 c chicken or veal stock

For the Black Garlic Butter

  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 6 cloves black garlic
  • Salt, to taste (I use 1 tsp of black Hawaiian lava salt)
  • ¼ tsp black food coloring (optional)

For the dough

  1. Put all ingredients except one c of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend with dough hook until well-combined, about two minutes. Allow to rest for five minutes so that the flour has a chance to relax. With the mixer on medium-low speed, begin to add the remaining cup of flour, adding just enough to go past the batter stage and form a loose dough. Once you’ve incorporated the right amount of flour, knead for an additional five minutes. Place dough in lightly-oiled bowl covered with a tea towel. Leave at room temperature for at least three hours and up to eight.

Meanwhile, make the pork belly filling:

  1. Par boil the pork belly in a medium saucepan for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the maple syrup with ¼ c Coke until it becomes syrupy. Add the pork belly skin-side down and cook until it is glazed in syrup and deep caramel colored. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 1.5 hours. Remove lid and simmer for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and falls apart.
  4. Remove meat from liquid and further reduce liquid over medium heat until ½ c remains.
  5. Shred the pork belly and add the cooking liquid. Combine and allow to cool completely before filling the beignets.

To fill and fry the beignets:

  1. Begin heating oil to 325°F. Punch down the beignet dough and create a floured work surface. Pull beignet dough off in pingpong ball-sized chunks. Flatten the dough between your two hands (see illustrations). Add a tablespoon of filling to the dough and wrap the dough around the filling to form a ball. Roll the ball in your fingers for a few minutes to smooth the part that was pinched together, otherwise it will separate during frying. Repeat with remaining beignets. Formed beignets will keep in the refrigerator for two days.
  2. Fry beignets at 325°F for two minutes per side, or until deep golden brown-orange.
  3. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired

To make the black garlic butter:

  1. Place all ingredients in the container for an immersion blender. Puree with immersion wand until smooth. You can pipe this butter for a pretty effect.
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33 Responses

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  4. Very interesting! Thanks for post.

  5. Wow! What a fantastic dish! I love finding fun new uses for my starter, and this one definitely hits the ticket!!! Very creative, and very delicious!

  6. @Tania, 00 is different from US all-purpose because the way Italian flour is graded is slightly different, based on how finely it is milled rather than its gluten content. 00 can have a range of gluten, in fact, but it doesn’t matter as much for beignets since they are fried rather than baked. I used the type of 00 flour most commonly found in the US, which is pizza-making 00. I don’t think it will matter a ton which flour you choose, again, I only added 00 because it’s ground so fine it makes biting into the beignets a softer experience. Hope that makes sense!

  7. Jonathan

    I think you and Anthony Bourdain were separated at birth. Your prose is as delicious as your recipes. And this recipe is nuts.

  8. I love the idea of savory beignets, they sure look very very tasty. Beautiful pictures as well.
    Hope you are having a great week :-)

  9. I am really liking the sound of these stuffed pumpkin beignets!

  10. This is really beautiful. They look very soft and scrumptious!

  11. Bill Colvard

    Wildly, insanely funny. I must try this. I will try this. I never knew about beignets and the donut/doughnut/beignet heirarchy. Now I do.

    Though I have long been infatuated with the boules de Berlin from Payard in NYC. On the surface, it’s just a jelly doughnut, but making the pastry using solid French pastry techniques and replacing the fruit flavored goo with real raspberry puree makes for a treat long remembered.

    So my question is, where do boules (hope spelling is right), especially the ones from Berlin, fall in the heirarchy?

    Linda Reply:

    @Bill Colvard, The distinction with boules (or boules de Berlin, as they’re also known) is that they are spherical and yeasted. I would say that those two qualifiers give them an edge over donuts and doughnuts for certain, but I’d put them lateral in the hierarchy with beignets in terms of level of fanciness. They lack the romantic sounding name of beignets, but they have a certain mystique. I imagine eating them alongside a glass of raspberry lambic, definitely not pinkie-out;)

  12. I usually pop in and out of here and (jealously) hate you you privately. But today I must hate you publicly. Because this is genius. The kind of genius that shames me into a groveling subservient knee crawl… an “I don’t deserve to know you” tongue hanging! A pleading and begging, hand-wringing that screams, “please PLEASE may I have a bite?”. GREG

  13. john v phipps

    Salty Seattle Sourdough-Pumpkin Beignets with Mexican Coke-Braised Pork Belly and Black Garlic Butter on the menu? Hell yes! I would order for sure.

  14. Congratulation on today’s top 9 Foodbuzz, your beignets looks wonderful very creative recipe and beautiful pictures!

  15. These literally look amazing!

  16. Um yeah. This post is amazing. I’m seriously considering changing out my body wash to pork belly! I cannot wait to try these.

  17. wow…my yogurt is failing me after seeing this post….wonderful wonderful…a must try! Thank you so very much for sharing and your photos are amazing!

  18. @Tania, sorry 00 flour


    ok so is the 00 dough from the 00 Pizzeria in san francisco – it is all purpose?

    and 1 c 100% saturation sourdough starter what do you use – brand? or did u happen to have some you made it from scratch?

    Linda Reply:

    @Tania, 00 is different from US all-purpose because the way Italian flour is graded is slightly different, based on how finely it is milled rather than its gluten content. 00 can have a range of gluten, in fact, but it doesn’t matter as much for beignets since they are fried rather than baked. I used the type of 00 flour most commonly found in the US, which is pizza-making 00. I don’t think it will matter a ton which flour you choose, again, I only added 00 because it’s ground so fine it makes biting into the beignets a softer experience. Hope that makes sense!

  20. These sound freaking amazing. I love pork belly and a fried beignets to boot, um Halloween never looked so good.

  21. Oh these are naughty all right. I mean….you took 3 of my very favorite things and FRY them? That’s just plain crazy.
    IN a GOOD way.

  22. Ha-my eyes are watering I am laughing so hard at some of your comments here. My husband just gave me this weird look…now back to the food.
    Love the flavor you packed into these little appetizers! They also make for an awesome presentation. I enjoyed reading this post- thanks for the entertaining comments as well as the amazing recipe.

    Linda Reply:

    @Tina@flourtrader, Tell your husband sorry-I can’t help it:)

  23. Oh my God, I love you…. That was creepy, but you are hilarious and your presentation is spectacular! I suck at baking so if you feel like mailing me some I will gladly take them!

    Linda Reply:

    @Stefanie Bundalo, Hmmm, not so sure how they’d travel, but next time you’re in town…

  24. Love the flavors, the presentation and the concept. In short, LOVE it!

  25. Mexican Coke, eh?…and a very clever writing talent ;)

  26. A beautifully written article/post. The halloween theme is superb as are the photos. Is it possible to substitute beef or chicken for the pork?

    Linda Reply:

    @Peter, I suppose you could sub, but if it were me, I’d sure miss the unctuous belly.

  27. I’m a chef in a restaurant in NYC and I’ve been following your site for a while now. This is my first time commenting because pretty much every recipe you come up with jumps out at me, but this one is a must! I’m wondering if you mind me incorporating it as a special at the resto for a few weeks? Please email me and let me know standard protocol on something like this. Spectacular. Oh, and your writing is as funny as ever.

    Linda Reply:

    @Brady, Emailed…

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