These fritters are alive with texture, which blends beautifully with the seasoned batter. Use as a base to a Fall salad, or a side to roasted meats. Prepared in smaller rounds they are perfect for service with a cheese board. The final garnishment of sweet potato and pear in a sauce is an outstanding punctuation to the sweet and savory combination of flavors.
Serves 6 as a side dish or accompaniment; serves 10 as an appetizer portion
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup whole milk
2 cups firm (but ripe) Bosc pears (about 4 medium), peeled and cored and chopped into 1/4” dice
½ cup leeks (about 2 large), white parts only, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
½ cup coarsely chopped shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grapeseed (or other neutral) oil
Into the bowl of a standing mixer, sift to combine the flour, baking powder, sea salt, and ground ginger. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and milk and lightly whisk to combine. Fit the standing mixer with the whisk attachment, and place the bowl into the stand mixer.
With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and continue whisking until you have a smooth batter. The batter will be heavy and thick.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced pears, leeks, mushrooms, and herbs. Add ½ cup of the seasoned fritter batter to the bowl and stir. Add up to ½ cup more batter as needed to just bind the pear mixture.
[Chef’s Note: You should have a scant amount of the batter remaining. Take care to use just enough to bind the ingredients. The batter here is meant to be a binder, not a filler.]
Place a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each of the butter and oil and whisk to incorporate once the butter has melted. Using a large spoon, drop about 2 tablespoons of batter in the sauté pan for each fritter. Repeat until the pan is full, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Sauté each fritter about 2 minutes per side, or until golden. Be sure not to overly brown them, as you want a nice, golden color. Transfer to a warmed plate; add the additional butter and olive oil to the pan and repeat. Serve immediately.
Sweet Potato and Sekel Pear Sauce
1 large sweet potato
2 medium ripe but firm Sekel pears
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon allspice
1 cup chicken broth, heated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the sweet potato, pears, and cloves of garlic with the olive oil. Prick the sweet potato with the edge of a knife on each side, and place into a medium-sized roasting pan with the pears and garlic. Bake until soft about 20 minutes for the pears, about 30 for the sweet potato, and about 45 for the garlic.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool until manageable. For the sweet potato, slice the potato in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Place into the bowl of a food processor. Slice the pear in half and remove the seeds and core. Scoop the remaining flesh out and add to the bowl of the food processor. Peel the garlic and add it to the bowl. Process in several pulses to combine. Add the ginger, honey, and allspice. Process until the fruit and vegetables are pureed and the flavor components incorporated. Through the chute of the food processor, add the chicken broth while the machine is running, just until a sauce consistency is achieved.
Serve immediately, or keep warm on stove top adding additional chicken broth as needed before serving.
Recipe and photo by Donna Marie Desfor