Thursday, December 20, 2018

CRAB SAUCE!!! From The Feast of the Seven Fishes Dishes

Nabaldee-Dabaldee Christmas Eve Crab Sauce

Serves 8
Remember the episode of the Soprano's when Tony and  Carmella where discussing being from Naples in the old country and the idiot son A.J., Chimed in, Naples? I though we were Nabaldee-Dabaldee?
If you have relatives from Naples, know what I'm talking about. If not, here is the explanation. The way the word Neapolitan is slurred out is by a second generation Italian American is Nabaldedon. There ya go.

Chef’s Note: Crab sauce is one of the Northeast things. Growing up in Connecticut, crab sauce was
ALWAYS served as one of the many dishes on that ridiculously large menu on Christmas Eve.
The crabs cook all day, making the house redolent with the sweet smell of the sea.
We always harvested buckets of blue crabs in the summer and then froze enough to
make the winter crab sauce. Fresh crabs are available at good fish markets and
Asian markets year round, but in a pinch a cluster of snow crab will work.
There is no actual crabmeat in the sauce, though you can add some
after the long cooked crabs have been fished out at the end of cooking.
Even though the hard crabs have been cooked to death, gnawing on them
and sucking the overcooked meat out of the shells is part of the messy ritual.
Get plenty of napkins ready.  

2 pounds dry spaghetti, imported please
8-10 blue crabs, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cans whole plum tomatoes
2 fresh or 3 dry bay leaves
Parsley for garnish
1 pound lump crab or claw meat (optional)

If your crabs are fresh they must be alive.
You have two options to end their life.
Method 1: (This method is the same for fresh or frozen crabs.)
The way with the most flavor is this.
Simply sear them in hot oil in your cooking pot a few at a time,
making sure they are touching the surface of the pan.
As they get red, remove them to a bowl and sear the rest in batches.
Reserve all the juices and get them into your sauce.
NOTE: They will keep moving for a while in the pan,
but they will also give off the delicious crab fat to the pan.
Method 2: This is for those of you who eat animals but live with guilt and loathing because if it.
(Get over it. Crabs are insects anyway.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop in the live crabs and cook for three minutes, or until they turn bright red.
Remove to a strainer and run cold water on them until they are cool enough to handle.
If your crabs are frozen you can skip this step.

Use a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.
Add oil to the pot and add the onions and garlic.  
Saute until shiny and soft but not brown.
Add the tomato paste and using a wooden spoon, stir it in well, allow it to fry a bit.
Stir in the white wine and mix it in well with the paste.
Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to get the wine/paste mix mixed in.
Rinse out the tomato can with 1/2  cup of water and add that too.
Puree the two cans of whole tomatoes in a blender and add those to the pot as well,
rinsing each can with a half cup of water,.

Add the crabs, a generous pinch of crushed red pepper and the bay leaves and bring to a rolling boil.
Once it boils reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for two to three hours,
adding a little water of it gets too thick.
Stir occasionally gently, trying not to break up the crabs.
After a couple of hours taste the sauce.
It should be sweet and tangy and have a strong aroma of crab.
If not, cook a little longer.  

Cook the spaghetti. While the spaghetti is cooking remove the crabs from the sauce
and put in a serving bowl. If using the canned crabmeat, add it now and stir it in.

To serve, put a pat of butter in each pasta bowl.
Top with cooked spaghetti.
Ladle on a generous amount of sauce.
Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve the crabs on the side with plenty of napkins.

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