James Beard Award-winning Chef Nina Compton’s Conch Croquettes are a tasty treat everyone will love. Perfect for game day, these crispy fritters are packed with the flavors of the Caribbean. The dish can also be made with minced shrimp.Here’s some great news if you happen to be in New Orleans. It’s been announced that Chef Nina Compton and her husband/business partner, Larry Miller, are reopening Compère Lapin to the public again. They will open the doors on Wednesday, November 11, 2020.
Along with the opening, there will of course be safety measures taking place with the guidance of the CDC, and local government and health officials. Like most restaurants that have already reopened, you’ll see socially distanced tables, extensive sanitation, and mask requirements for all staff and guests when not seated at their tables.
And while they are keeping safety as a top priority, you can still expect the same high level of quality and service that has earned Compère Lapin all of the accolades and rave reviews since it first opened in 2015.
“We wanted to wait until we knew we could give our customers the experience they’re used to, while still keeping our staff and guests safe,” says Compton. “We can’t wait to get back into the restaurant and see all of the familiar faces who’ve been a part of the CL family since we opened.”
At this point, the restaurant will reopen with dinner only, and only Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM. Then as they get going, they’ll start to add additional days and meal periods.
Diners can expect Compton’s bold, flavorful cuisine – a harmonious blend of her Caribbean roots, French training, and Italian technique. Signature must-have dishes include Conch Croquettes with pickled pineapple tartar sauce (recipe below); Spiced Pig Ears with smoked aioli; Snapper Pepper Pot with semolina dumplings; and the famed Curried Goat with sweet potato gnocchi and cashews.
New plates include Crispy Fried Pickles with the “Comeback Sauce;” Chickpea Dahl with cilantro yogurt and roti; Caribbean Chopped Salad; Spiced Half Chicken with red rice and chow chow; Ricotta Agnolotti with butternut squash and mint; and more. Sweet treats include Banana & Nutella Zeppoles with rum caramel; Soursop Cheesecake with guava and cheese ice cream; and Chocolate Mousse with fresh mint and mango ice cream.
The cocktail program at Compère Lapin has always been front and center and imbibers can expect the same thoughtfully crafted beverages that earned the restaurant multiple awards including the 2019 Tales of the Cocktail “Best American Hotel Bar.” The signature Copper Bunny returns with a flavorful concoction of Absolut Elyx, pineapple-jalapeño tequila, and ginger, topped with Champagne and served in an actual copper bunny; as well as elevated classics and a rotating selection of daiquiris.
Compère Lapin, located in The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery at 535 Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans. For more information, please visit www.comperelapin.com or call (504) 599-2119.
If you’re staying in the French Quarter, cross Canal Street at North Peters Street, but where it becomes Tchoupitoulas Street and NOT South Peters. The Old No. 77 is about five blocks down from Canal on the other side of Poydras Street. If you see Lafayette Street or Girod Street, you’ve gone too far.
If you can’t celebrate the reopening of Compère Lapin in person, here’s the recipe to their popular Conch Croquettes with Pickled Pineapple Tartar Sauce so you can play along at home. Enjoy!
Conch Croquettes with Pickled Pineapple Tartar Sauce
- 8 tbsp butter unsalted
- ½ cup Spanish onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk warm
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 8 oz conch poached (see recipe below)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 onion julienned
- ½ bunch rosemary
- 8 oz. conch
- olive oil
- 3 qt. water
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp red onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp capers chopped
- 2 tbsp juice from capers jar
- 1 tbsp jalapeno pepper chopped finely
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped finely
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice plus wedges, for serving/garnish
- 2 tbsp pickled pineapple small diced
- salt to taste
- cayenne pepper pinch, or to taste
Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over a medium flame. Add the onions and peppers and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups of the flour and mix energetically. Cook for 5 minutes to make sure the flour is cooked through; it should start to take on a golden color. Pour the milk into the flour mixture and cook, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes; add the spices, until you have a thick béchamel.
Add the conch and sprinkle in the salt and nutmeg. Cook for another 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough that you can mold in your hands. Carefully pick up a bit and try to ball it with your hands. It shouldn’t be too sticky. If it does stick to your hands, cook it a little longer. Then, spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and let it cool to room temperature.
Take a spoonful of the cooled béchamel mixture and roll it in your hands to make a small cylinder the size of a wine cork. Roll the cylinder in the remaining 1 cup of flour, then in the eggs, and then in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the croquettes.
In a small, deep frying pan, heat the olive oil to 375°F (190°C – measured with a candy thermometer). Add the croquettes in small batches, making sure they are covered completely in oil. Fry until they have a nice golden color, about 1-2 minutes; then transfer them to paper towels to drain. Repeat with all the croquettes and serve hot with some tartar sauce and lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Caramelize the onions in a sauté pan and add the rosemary. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the conch and simmer for 45 minutes. Take off heat and cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely in liquid.
Combine all ingredients and serve
Shared with permission by Chef Nina Compton.
Thank you for reading!
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to the Red Beans & Eric Newsletter so you don’t miss a recipe, interview, or review. By signing up, I’ll send you a free e-cookbook that includes some of the most popular recipes from the website.
You can always stay in touch with me by leaving a comment in the section below, by clicking here or messaging me on any of the social media sites that I am on.
Thank you for stopping by!
Keep the red beans cookin’!
Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.