Nathan Richard’s Crawfish and Goat Cheese Donuts

12.16.2020 | In Recipes

Recipe by: Nathan Richard, Executive Chef at Cuvèe

Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

On March 1, 2020, chef Nathan Richard returned to his hometown of Thibodaux. Richard is deeply grateful to New Orleans. “That’s where I learned to cook and learned a lot about life.” But he recently got married and is happy to be home and starting a new, more sustainable chapter in his life.

Never one to rest, Richard moved back to open Cuvèe Wine Bar and Bistro. Laughing, he admits, “It’s a pretty crazy idea to open up a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic!” But the chef and veteran volunteer firefighter firmly believes in the power of community, service, and the people and culture of Louisiana. The news of how local restaurants are faring is sobering. When asked what we can do to support them, Richard offers up a host of options. “Buy the gift card. Buy the merchandise—shirts, booze, whatever they offer. Get takeout or come eat here. Throw your private party business to local restaurants. You’d be surprised at what we can make happen!”

At Cuvèe, Richard marries the foods of his childhood, his skills honed in New Orleans kitchens, and the Italian, Spanish, and Vietnamese flavors he’s encountered along the way into a style of cooking that is all his own. Those looking for classic Louisiana food with a twist can find redfish on the half shell with Louisiana citrus-chipotle butter and mirliton coleslaw or a satsuma spiced pork chop from neighboring Mississippi with “dirty rice” faro and a café au lait BBQ sauce. And, for those looking to branch out a little more while still celebrating the local bounty, Richard serves up blackened shrimp cannelloni stuffed with oyster mushrooms, three cheeses and a roasted sweet potato marinara.

“My thing,” Richard says, “is going after the underdog and trying to figure out the ways we can cook them and change people’s minds.” Alligator and turtle are just some of the ingredients you’ll find in Richard’s kitchen, and he’s especially interested in looking at invasive plants and creatures—not just as threats to the Louisiana coast, but as opportunities for creativity in the kitchen. In so doing, Richard says we can allow our native flora and fauna to regenerate, preserving both our coast and our culture.

When the subject of crawfish season comes up, Richard’s accent gets a little thicker. “One of my favorite things is a big ol’ crawfish boil.” But he doesn’t stop there. Always one to tinker, Richard offers up these Crawfish and Goat Cheese Donuts: “You take two great things, a beignet and a crawfish, and you add those two together and you just can’t beat it.”

For Richard, Louisiana’s coast is not just a place for hunting and foraging the delectables that he serves up, but one of protection. “We need these coasts and wetlands to protect us; they’re our first defense against hurricanes.” He sees taking care of the coast as incumbent on all of us. “If we don’t, it won’t be there forever.” The newlywed is clearly thinking about his own future: “I want my kids to one day enjoy the things I have.”


Crawfish and Goat Cheese Donuts Recipe

Ingredients

For the Dough:
 1 (¼-oz.) package active dry yeast
 ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
 ¼ cup warm water (about 115°F)
 ½ cup whole milk
 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
 2 each large eggs
 1 each egg yolk
 3 cups all-purpose flour
 ¾ tsp. kosher salt
 ½ cup butter, softened
For the Filling:
 ½ cup minced shallot
 1⅓ cups goat cheese
 2 tbsp minced chives
 2½ tsp. salt, divided
 12 oz crawfish tails, drained
For the Glaze:
 8 oz cream cheese (soften)
 2 oz pepper jelly
 2 tbsp powder sugar
For Assembly:
 3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Directions

For the Dough:
1

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, 1⁄2 tsp. sugar, and ¼ cup warm water; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add milk, vanilla, eggs, egg yolk, and remaining sugar.

2

Beat at low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Turn mixer off, and add flour and salt. Mix at medium speed until dough just comes together. Mix at high speed for 4 minutes. Add butter, and continue mixing until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Punch down dough, and turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 18-inch square, about ¼-inch thick. Cut dough into 2-inch squares.

For the Filling:
3

In a medium bowl, combine shallot, goat cheese, chives, and 2 tsp. salt; gently fold in crawfish. Cover and refrigerate.

For the Glaze:
4

Mix together cream cheese, pepper jelly, and powdered sugar until smooth.

For Assembly:
5

Heat oil to 375°F. Place 2 tsp. of crawfish filling in the center of half of the squares. Wet the edges of each dough square all the way around with water. Place squares with no filling on top and lightly press edges to seal and form a square doughnut with filling inside. In batches, fry dough, flipping as needed, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from oil and let drain in a small bowl with paper towels to remove excess grease. Brush each doughnut with the pepper jelly glaze and serve. Any leftover glaze can be used for dipping.

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Ingredients

For the Dough:
 1 (¼-oz.) package active dry yeast
 ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
 ¼ cup warm water (about 115°F)
 ½ cup whole milk
 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
 2 each large eggs
 1 each egg yolk
 3 cups all-purpose flour
 ¾ tsp. kosher salt
 ½ cup butter, softened
For the Filling:
 ½ cup minced shallot
 1⅓ cups goat cheese
 2 tbsp minced chives
 2½ tsp. salt, divided
 12 oz crawfish tails, drained
For the Glaze:
 8 oz cream cheese (soften)
 2 oz pepper jelly
 2 tbsp powder sugar
For Assembly:
 3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Directions

For the Dough:
1

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, 1⁄2 tsp. sugar, and ¼ cup warm water; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add milk, vanilla, eggs, egg yolk, and remaining sugar.

2

Beat at low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Turn mixer off, and add flour and salt. Mix at medium speed until dough just comes together. Mix at high speed for 4 minutes. Add butter, and continue mixing until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Punch down dough, and turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 18-inch square, about ¼-inch thick. Cut dough into 2-inch squares.

For the Filling:
3

In a medium bowl, combine shallot, goat cheese, chives, and 2 tsp. salt; gently fold in crawfish. Cover and refrigerate.

For the Glaze:
4

Mix together cream cheese, pepper jelly, and powdered sugar until smooth.

For Assembly:
5

Heat oil to 375°F. Place 2 tsp. of crawfish filling in the center of half of the squares. Wet the edges of each dough square all the way around with water. Place squares with no filling on top and lightly press edges to seal and form a square doughnut with filling inside. In batches, fry dough, flipping as needed, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from oil and let drain in a small bowl with paper towels to remove excess grease. Brush each doughnut with the pepper jelly glaze and serve. Any leftover glaze can be used for dipping.

Nathan Richard’s Crawfish and Goat Cheese Donuts