Alligator Claws (Avocado Fritters) With Chipotle-Lime Dip

Total Time
45mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 15 mins

A translucent golden-brown crust allows the green of the avocado to be seen. The crispy exterior is a counterpoint to the unctuous interior. These are a signature dish for me, and the one I most often get requests to make (although my seafood and ricotta stuffed buckwheat pancakes run a close second). These fritters came about ten years ago when I was shopping for a dinner I was making for a friend who is a CIA-trained chef. I was in a vegetable market and saw these gorgeous avocados that I just KNEW would be ripe in the next two days. I tried to think of what I could do with them since a) everyone serves cold avocado, and b) I really am not fond of guacamole. As I tried to think of what I could make with them that was hot, the work 'fritters' jumped into my head. Having never made a fritter before, I was a little surprised to have that thought; but having never known when a vegetable was going to be ripe before I figured I was on a roll and decided to go for it. To serve with my never-before-tried-fritters, I decided to make a crème fraîche-lime-cayenne dipping sauce. So I made fresh crème fraîche, and used it as a base not only for this dip, but for a Tia Maria sauce to go with the flourless chocolate cake I made for dessert (another never-before made item, but with the recipe from Cook's Illustrated it was the only thing I wasn't making up as I went along). The result of the fritters was that I got to taste the test fritter, then had to dive across the couch before the last one was devoured in order to have a second. The one evolution in the recipe is the change from cayenne to chipotle in the dip. I like the smokiness, and it gives a rough edge to something very smooth - I am all about contrast. Feel free to use whatever chile or combination thereof that you like best. This dip is easy and stands on it's own at a party for anything you want to dip into it. I have also made it with vegan sour cream with great results. The name Alligator Claws comes from an alternate name for the avocado: the alligator pear, as well as the fact that the wedges of avocado look like claws. (For those not familiar with the name Alligator Pear, it derives from both the tough, textured exterior - reminiscent of an alligator's hide, and the fact that you really can't eat one until it softens - just like a pear.) Alligator Claws are also a great name to call them if you have kids who either won't eat anything that sounds weird and you want to keep them to yourself, or - if you want your kids to eat them - if you have kids who'll only eat things that will gross other people out. If you are preparing these for kids (and I recommend you do whatever name you choose to call them), protect their palates and tone down the heat of the sauce. Maybe skip the chiles altogether and put in just a hint of finely ground pepper (white pepper won't look like black specks throughout the dip - I'm normally not that fussy, but it's something kids will notice). Allow half an avocado per person. This is so rich that more is too much. Note: You can easily cut the recipe in half, all the batter is is a one-to-one mix of flour & water (someone has suggested trying tempura batter which comes in a mix at many supermarkets - I tend to be a from-scratch kind of guy. Or do I just mean itchy?). Enjoy. -- Text by Michael David Winter, aka The Poker Roach

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. DIP:.
  2. Put the crème fraîche (or other option) into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Zest the lime finely and mix the zest into the crème fraîche.
  4. Roll the lime on your counter, placing enough pressure to soften the pulp inside without breaking the lime's skin.
  5. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half, reserving the other half for another use.
  6. While stirring, slowly add the juice to the crème fraîche until you get a consistency just the runny side of mayonnaise.
  7. Add a couple of pinches of ground chipotle, stir in and taste, repeating until you have both a heat and smokiness you like. If you are making this a day or two ahead of time, stop adding the chile when you are just shy of how strong you think you'd like it to be. It will get stronger overnight.
  8. FRITTERS:.
  9. Mix the flour & water in a medium-sized bowl until absolutely smooth.
  10. Put a heavy-weight frying pan on the stove on medium heat and put a paper towel lined plate nearby.
  11. Halve an avocado from top to bottom. Twist to remove section from pit, then remove the pit from the other half. Cut each half into four wedges and remove the skin.
  12. Add oil to the pan.
  13. Dip each section of avocado into the batter, leaving only a very thin layer of batter on each, and add the wedges to the pan one at a time as you batter them. By the lime the last is in, it will be time to turn the first. Cook each side until golden brown (you will need to turn them to cook on three sides - tongs or a spatula & fork work best).
  14. When done, place each fritter on the towel-lined plate to remove excess oil.
  15. Sprinkle a little salt over the fritters, plate and serve hot with dipping sauce.

Reviews

(1)
Most Helpful

The claws were a big hit and very simple to make. The chipolte-lime dip was too runny and so I ended up whipping it. It was certainly different-some raved about it while others thought it too strange,like spicey ice cream. I'm making it again but this time, I'm going to add the chipolte pepper to the batter and maybe do a fruity salsa to go with it.

ditsyquoin May 09, 2008

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