Ric Orlando's Crab and "Zucca" Risotto from Albany Wine Dine for the Arts 2013


Crab and "Zucca" Risotto

Crab and pumpkin (aka Zucca), in this case butternut squash,  creamy mascarpone and a drizzle of olive oil is both luxurious and comforting at the same time. Served with a nice bitter endive salad and a big fat white wine, life is good!

There are three steps to this recipe. Cleaning the crab, making the stock and building the risotto. There are no real shortcuts for this--do it all. --life is way more fun when you give it your all....

serves 4
1 Dungeness Crab, Live or cooked (available at a local Asian market)
or 3 Jonah Crabs
or 8 Blue Crabs
1 butternut squash, peled and diced ( about 1 1/2 cups diced butternut squash)
2 cup arborio rice
olive oil as needed
butter as wanted
1 small onion, diced (save peelings)
1 leek, cleaned, white and light green parts diced, green tops reserved for stock
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (peels reserved
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of sage, leaves chopped
2 bay leaves
4 oz tomato paste
2 cup white wine
Juice and zest of two lemons
1 fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup marcarpone cheese
Grana Padano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

FIRST Make the crab-squash stock.This can be done a day in advance.
Blanch the crab:
Preheat oven to 450
In a heavy pot bring 1 gallon lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Drop in the crab and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the crab and cool under running water. Discard the water. ( if you have purchased already cooked crabs, skip this)

Clean the crab: SAVE THE SHELLS! That is what we are making stock from. Pull off the legs and claws and pull off the back shell.  Any liquid and fat that is in the back also goes into the stock. Remove the “fingers” or the greyish gills from he torso and discard. Pull as much meat from the body as you can, Using a scissors, mallet, vice grips, back of a pan...(get it?) crack the claws and legs and extract as much meat as you can there also. Use all the shells, roe, green stuff and drippings for the stock.The reserved meat will last refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Make the stock:
Put all shells and shell pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until he shell edges lightly brown.
Use a heavy stock pot over medium high heat. Add all crab shells to the pot. 
Add half of the diced onion and the onion peelings, half of the diced carrot and carrot peelings, the bay leaves, half of the parsley bunch and leek greens.
Now add the tomato paste and stir it in coating all of the veggies and crab shells. Add one cup of the white wine and stir that in well also.
Add one gallon of lightly salted water to the pot.
Bring to a rolling boil.  Skim and reduce heat. Cook for at least one hour or up to four hours gently. It should reduce by about 10%. If it reduces too much, lower the heat and add a little more water. Strain, discard solids, save the liquid.

Now make the risotto.
Dice the butternut squash meat.
In a heavy casserole pan over high heat coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. If you like, add a little knob of butter and let it foam up.
Add the diced onion, leeks and carrot. Lightly season with salt and pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes to soften the onions. Add the diced butternut squash and sauté for 3 more minutes.
Add the rice and stir to coat, adding a little more olive oil if needed. Saute for three minutes.
Add the cup of wine all at once and stir in well.
Now start adding the stock, about 6-8 ounces at a time, and gently stir constantly until the stock is mostly evaporated. Continue with this technique, adding stock and stirring it down ladle by ladle, until most of the stock is gone and the rice is creamy and tender.
Finish by adding the lemon juice, reserved crab meat, the mascarpone, a nice knob of butter and the chopped parsley. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, Grana Padano, chopped parsley and a little lemon zest. Serve at once.