Friday, August 19, 2016

Smoked Avocado Toast with Herbed Crab Salad, Bacon Fat Fried Sourdough, + Citrus Caviar

Okay, I've finally jumped on the avocado toast bandwagon (#avotoast). I will be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of avocado to begin with. I always found their mushy texture and lack of flavor to be less than appealing... even though I do love me some guacamole. So, when I saw recipe after recipe of pieces of bread topped with nothing besides avocado, I normally just skipped over them and didn't think anything else about it. But my Mountain Man is a lover of avocado and begged me to make them for him. As with most of my recipes that involve bread, I always have to fry them in some kind of fat or oil, this time I chose bacon fat... because we all know I keep a jar handy in the fridge. I love the smokey flavor and the richness that the bacon fat lends. But, if you aren't a crazy person like me (who keeps bacon fat in a jar), then any oil will be fine here. The toast should be beautifully golden brown, saturated in yummy fat, and perfectly crisp. After you have fried the slices of bread, make sure to give them a rub-a-dub-dub with a big ole' clove of garlic while they are still warm. Now here is the fun part... the smoking of the avocado (and y'all it's so damn easy)! Essentially, all you have to do is get a large dutch oven and place a small bowl upside down in the center. Scatter your choice of flavored wood chips around the bowl, no need for soaking them in water, and turn up the heat to high. While you wait for the chips to start smoking, scoop out your avocado into another small bowl and dress them with fresh lime juice and zest, as well as some fleur de sel. If you want more smokiness to your avocado, then I suggest you slightly smash them, if you want a tame smoke flavor, just leave them in halves. Next, all you have to do is put the bowl of avocado on top of the overturned bowl in the dutch oven (with the chips smoking away), and cover the pot. Smoke the avocado for 5 minutes... any more and it might be overkill. While the avocado is smoking, it's time to quickly whip up your herbed crab salad. This is easy-peasy. In a medium mixing bowl, add the in the jumbo lump crab meat, homemade aioli, dijon mustard, fish sauce caramel, lemon juice + zest, red pepper flakes, minced garlic + shallots, and fresh herbs. If you can't find/make fish sauce caramel, a white balsamic reduction or honey would be a good substitute. As gently as possible, fold together the lump crab meat with the herbed aioli until the crab is completely coated, but still has a few big pieces of meat. Now your bacon fat fried toast, herbed crab salad, + smoked avocado are all ready to be assembled into amazing avotoast. I'm a little coo-coo, in that I had Finger Limes shipped to me from California... specifically for this recipe. Finger limes are so interesting because we you slice them open, a citrus caviar comes out, as opposed to pulp and seeds. If you can, order some, they are so fun, and can be used in a million different ways. But, the toast is just as good with some lime zest + freshly squeezed lime juice on top, so don't worry about it if you can't wait to make this. This smoked avocado toast is so good that we've made it for the past three weeks. I believe I'm now an avocado toast lover... who would've ever thought? Enjoy :)
smoking the avocado
bacon fat fried toast
bacon fat fried toast + smoked avocado slices
all of the components for the herbed crab salad
it's hard to resist it, but save it for the toast

see the citrus caviar from the finger limes on top?

citrus. caviar.
For the Herbed Crab Salad:
8oz Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
3-4T Homemade Aioli
1t Dijon Mustard
1T Fish Sauce Caramel
1 Lemon, Zested (plus the juice from half of that lemon)
1-2t Red Pepper Flakes (or depending on how spicy you want it)
1 Small Shallot, Finely Minced
1 Clove of Garlic, Finely Minced (into a paste)
½t Fresh Cracked Pepper + ¼t Kosher Salt
1T Fresh Snipped Chives (plus a little extra for garnishing)
1t Fresh Tarragon, Basil, + Parsley, Finely Minced (plus a little extra for garnishing)

For the Smoked Avocado: 

2-3 Avocados
1 Lime, Zested + Juiced
Pinch of Kosher Salt

For the Smoked Avocado-Crab Toast:
Prepared Herbed Crab Salad, Chilled
Smoked Avocado, Lightly Mashed or Gently Sliced
4 Slices of Sourdough, Fried in Bacon Fat (or any other oil can be substituted)
1 Large Clove of Garlic
Citrus Caviar (finger limes) or Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Mixed Herbs, For Garnishing

1. For the Herbed Crab Salad: In a mixing bowl, put in all of the ingredients of the herbed crab salad. Gently fold these together until the crab is coated in the herb-aioli mixture. Do not mix too hard because you want to maintain as much of the “lump crab” pieces as possible. Now, taste and season with salt and pepper, if it is needed. Refrigerate this crab salad until you are ready to assemble the toasts.
2. For the Smoked Avocado: Line a Dutch oven (or any heavy bottomed pot with a lid) with foil to keep your pot from burning. Place a small metal bowl upside down in the middle of the Dutch oven. This will help prop everything up. Then, scatter about 2C of wood chips around the small metal bowl. We used mesquite wood chips, but any kind will work (hickory, apple, etc.), and there’s no need to soak these either! Turn up the heat to medium-high and wait for the chips to start smoking, it can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, while you’re waiting for the wood chips to smoke, it’s time to get to avocados ready to be smoked by halving, pitting, and peeling them. Put the avocado halves into another small bowl and zest + juice a lime over the top. If you want sliced avocado for your toast, leave the halves untouched. These will be slightly less smoky. If you love a smoky flavor, lightly smash the avocado, which gives more surface area for the smoke to infuse into. Once the chips are smoking, place the bowl of avocados on top of the upside down bowl in the pot. Top the Dutch oven with a lid and set your timer for 5 minutes (any more time than that, it’ll be way too smoky). After the time is up, remove the smoked avocado, season with some fleur de sel, and place in the fridge to chill.
3. Assembling the Toast: Grab your perfectly browned bacon fat fried toasts and rub the surface with the clove of garlic. Top each of the slices with some of your chilled smoked avocado and season with a pinch of salt. Spoon a mound of the herbed crab salad on top of the creamy avocado. Scatter the citrus caviar evenly over the crab mixture. If you can’t find finger limes, some lime zest and lime juice will do just fine! Garnish with the leftover mixed herbs for presentation.

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