Baked Stuffed Crab

SERVES 6 AS AN AP­PE­TIZER

SAVEUR - - Contents -

Ac­tive: 20 min. • To­tal: 30 min. Adapted from San Se­bastián na­tive Ale­jan­dro Pacheco Gur­rachaga’s fam­ily, this recipe is a ver­sion of txan­gurro a la donos­tiarra, a lo­cally pop­u­lar dish cre­ated by a Basque chef in the early 20th cen­tury. It was named af­ter Donos­tia, the Basque name for San Se­bastián. Cooks in the re­gion clas­si­cally use small cen­tollo (an­other name for spi­der crab) or lo­cal buey de mar and bake the crab­meat mix­ture into the empty shell of the crab, but you can use Dun­geness crabs, or a bak­ing dish, as well. While this ver­sion has just a hint of sugar and brandy, some recipes add more and flambé the meat be­fore serv­ing.

6 small or 3 large toma­toes (1¾ lb.) 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ex­travir­gin olive oil 1¾ cups finely chopped yel­low onion (from 2 small onions), di­vided 2 pinches kosher salt ¾ tsp. sugar 3 Tbsp. un­salted but­ter, di­vided 14 oz. fresh crab­meat (about 2 packed cups), from about 2–3 large cooked buey de mar or Dun­geness crabs ½ cup coarse dried bread crumbs ¾ tsp. brandy Bread, for serv­ing (op­tional) 1 Slice a large X through the bot­tom skin of each tomato. In a large pot of heav­ily salted, boil­ing wa­ter, add the toma­toes and let cook un­til the cut skins start to pull away, about 1 minute. Re­move and let cool slightly, then peel away and dis­card the skins. Core and seed the toma­toes, then finely dice the flesh. Set aside.

2 Set a rack in the top third of the oven and pre­heat to broil. In a large skil­let over medium heat, heat 1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil. Add 1½ cups of the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til soft­ened but not browned, 6–7 min­utes. Add the toma­toes, a pinch of salt, 1 ta­ble­spoon of but­ter, and the sugar; cook, stir­ring, un­til some of the tomato juices have evap­o­rated, 6–8 min­utes more. Turn off the heat.

3 Trans­fer the onion mix­ture to a large bowl. Add the crab­meat, 2 ta­ble­spoons of the bread crumbs, the re­main­ing tea­spoon olive oil, and the brandy; stir gently to com­bine.

4 Trans­fer the crab mix­ture into a clean, empty shell from the crab body set on a bak­ing sheet (pack the mix­ture or use two shells as needed to fit), or trans­fer to a medium (32-ounce) bak­ing or souf­flé dish. Sprin­kle the top with the re­main­ing ¼ cup onion, then the re­main­ing bread crumbs. Cut up the re­main­ing but­ter into small pieces and dis­trib­ute on top.

5 Broil un­til the crumbs are browned and crispy, 5–8 min­utes. Serve warm with bread if de­sired.

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