by Kiki O’Keeffe
Congratulations, you’ve caught yourself a wild almond croissant! Also known as “the almondine toothfish,” wild almond croissants are among the most succulent and tender of all baked goods. I’ll never forget the first time I grabbed one from its habitat in the bakery window, still kicking in my hands. The following recipe is an easy and classic preparation for a wild almond croissant, even if you’ve never cooked one before. Enjoy!
Yield: 1 serving
Time: 20 minutes
1 half-pound wild almond croissant, in one piece
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Optional garnish with sliced lemons and chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven. You won’t need it for long, but you’ll need it hot, so preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Skin the croissant. If you caught the wild almond croissant in a bakery, it’s likely to come wrapped in its natural parchment skin. This should slide off easily in one sheet.
- Locate the little bones. Lay the wild almond croissant skin-side down on your cutting board so that the flakier surface is facing upward. Manually press along the meat with your fingertips, careful to note any irregular hard lumps. Sometimes you’ll find thin, ivory ovals on the skin itself. These are called the top bones because they go on top, and you’ll only want to remove them if you’re allergic to almonds. Otherwise, leave them be—they add a nice crunch and contain calcium.
- Pull out the big bone. Most wild almond croissants come without a big bone running through its center, but if yours has one, prepare for some resistance. Stand your ground, and gently but firmly pull it out of the fillet in as smooth a motion as possible. Pin bones are slightly angled toward the head, which is found at whichever tip is crispier, so make sure to pull sideways as well as upward. But nearly every croissant these days comes de-boned, so you’ll likely skip this step.
- Drain the blood. Most of the blood is clotted inside the body of the wild almond croissant. Its texture is viscous, almost like a paste, and you may have to create an incision to scrape it out. (I always lick the knife because it tastes so good!) If you’re feeling ambitious and, again, have no allergy to almonds, set the clots aside to make a delicious blood macaron later.
- Pat the fillet dry. A croissant is pure protein, so you’ll want its flesh to be as dry as possible before seasoning it. Use a paper towel to pat it down on all sides. You’d be surprised how see-through the towel gets!
- Mix the dry rub. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Be sure to break up any sugar clumps that may form—that will cause an uneven sweetness to permeate your almond croissant, which already contains a lot of natural sugar.
- Apply the dry rub. Sprinkle the seasoning liberally on all sides of the croissant, turning it over until fully coated. Be careful because the flesh is delicate after all the washing and blood draining. Of course, that’s what makes it so tender, so I guess you might say that’s the “rub!”
- Roast the croissant. Because wild almond croissants are already baked, it only needs a few seconds in the oven. Place it skin-side down in a baking dish or foil-lined sheet pan and roast uncovered for no more than 30 seconds. The croissant is already made of flakes, so it should continue to be flaky when you remove it.
- Plate and serve. Place the roasted wild almond croissant on a nice plate and garnish with lemons and parsley if you’re feeling fancy. Bon appetit!