My recent discovery of Softshell Crabs Benedict – the absolutely perfect South Louisiana brunch – came by accident. I pride myself on knowing beforehand the trendy new eateries constantly springing up in Acadiana, so I was surprised to learn of a new brunch spot when my daughter Lauren called.
“Brick and Spoon?”
“Yeah Dad, it just opened in that closed up pizza joint on Kaliste Saloom Road.”
“Brunch or pizza?”
“It’s not pizza. Actually, it’s everything but pizza.”
“Uh, can we just go somewhere else? Maybe somewhere more familiar or Cajun or just not pizza?”
“Dad, it’s eggs. You like eggs, right?”
“Ok, I’m in.”
The Brick and Spoon restaurant is jam-packed at 10:30 am on a Saturday and during the half hour wait, I get to check out the place. The décor is cool and laid-back with a vibe and rhythm of a restaurant that is humming with confidence and creative energy. I note the fast-moving waitstaff and an open kitchen that rocks the compact space. Tables inside and, better yet, outside on a covered patio, which is where we were seated.
Lauren was right – lots of options on the menu featuring sandwiches, salads, and burgers with eggs being the star attraction. And as my daughter pointed out, no pizza.
Looking at the menu there was one item that jumped off the page and pinched me into submission – the Softshell Crabs Benedict. This eggs Benedict inspired dish featured two small softshell crabs with claws grasping two perfectly poached eggs set on toasted bread with a slice of ham in between. The crunchy crab stands up to the velvety, yellow egg yolks that ooze into the sauce covering the dish with a rich veil of flavor. The execution of this dish is near perfection and gently plated with a precise hand.
When we left, I told my daughter how impressed I was with her choice and that my expectation of a perfect brunch dish had just been elevated to a new benchmark. All she has to say next time is, “Brunch at the Brick?’ and I’m in.
Now, all I have to do is recreate this perfect brunch dish and share it with you.
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon Creole mustard or coarse-grained mustard
- Dash of hot sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups peanut oil
- 4 small Louisiana softshell crabs, cleaned
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- Water, for boiling
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 4 large eggs
- 4 artisan bread rounds, (or English muffins)
- Spray butter
- 4 slices smoked ham
- Spring mix lettuce, for garnish
- Fresh fruit, for garnish
- In a blender container, add the egg yolks and lemon juice and blend on medium speed until the mixture lightens in color and is combined.
- Turn the blender to low, remove the cover, and slowly pour in the melted butter. Once the butter is combined, add the Creole mustard and hot sauce and blend. Turn off the blender, add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Keep warm for serving.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the peanut oil and bring to 375ºF.
- Inspect the crabs to make sure the gills have been removed and are cleaned. Sprinkle the crabs lightly with salt and pepper along with a pinch of Cajun seasoning. Dredge the crabs in the cornmeal until coated. Add the crabs to the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Move to a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.
- In a saucepan filled half way with water, bring to a boil. Lower the heat so that the water is now at a simmer just below the boiling point. Add the vinegar to the water.
- Crack one of the eggs into a small, shallow container and gently ease the egg into the water. Repeat quickly with the rest of the eggs. With a slotted spoon, move the egg whites closer to the yolks so that they stay together.
- Cover and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the egg whites are set.
- With the slotted spoon, gently lift the eggs out of the pan and place on a warm plate.
- Spray the bread rounds with spray butter and toast until browned. On a large plate, place two of the bread rounds and add the slice of ham. Top the ham with a poached egg and pour over some of the Creole Hollandaise. Place a softshell crab next to each of the eggs with the claws reaching out and embracing the egg. Sprinkle a few lettuce leaves and garnish with fresh fruit on the side.
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