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Serves 6 as an ap­pe­tizer ( 4 as a main course)


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• 2 L (2 quarts) court bouil­lon

1 large Dun­geness crab, about 1 kg (2¼ lb)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp white wine

1 yel­low onion, thinly sliced 1 medium car­rot, thinly sliced

1 rib cel­ery, thinly sliced

500 ml (2 cups) pre­served or tinned top-qual­ity Ital­ian toma­toes 2 sprigs basil, leaves only


600 g (20 oz) gno­chetti*

120 g (¼ lb) cold but­ter, cubed, about 1 cm (½ inch)

15 g (½ oz) agretti

2 tbsp minced chives

2 tsp le­mon juice

1 tbsp toasted or fried bread crumbs Mi­cro-planed zest of lime or or­ange (or both)

Fine ex­tra vir­gin olive oil


Bring the court bouil­lon to a boil in a Dutch oven or saucepan large enough to ac­com­mo­date the crab. Add the crab, lower to a sim­mer and poach, cov­ered, for 10 min­utes. Re­move crab, chill in iced wa­ter, and drain. Shell the crab, re­serv­ing sep­a­rately the picked crab meat, the shells and edi­ble in­nards (toma­l­ley, mainly). Break the crab meat into bite-sized pieces, and set aside in the re­frig­er­a­tor. Break or chop the shell into pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bot­tomed saucepan on medium-high. Add the crab shell and in­nards, onion, car­rot and cel­ery, and sauté un­til the shells turn red—about 5 min­utes. Deglaze. When the wine has re­duced to syrup add the toma­toes. Re­duce for 3 min­utes, then add 1.5 L (1½ quarts) cold wa­ter. Re­duce by half. Re­move shells, add basil leaves, and use a blender to blitz un­til smooth. Strain crab broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan and re­serve.

To fin­ish, bring a large pot of salted wa­ter to a rolling boil. Trans­fer 500 ml (2 cups) of the re­served crab broth to a large sauté pan or saucepan on high heat. Re­duce by half. Re­duce heat to low, and whisk in but­ter one piece at a time. When the but­ter has been com­pletely emul­si­fied, set aside (keep warm). Add gno­chetti to the boil­ing salted wa­ter and cook for 3 min­utes. Drain, then add to the crab broth over low heat. Add two-thirds of the agretti. Stir gently un­til gnoc­chetti are well-coated and the sauce is thick­ened—2 to 3 min­utes. Add the crab meat, chives and le­mon juice. Stir over low heat un­til crab is just heated through. Taste and add salt if nec­es­sary. Dis­trib­ute be­tween 6 (or 4) warm plates. Gar­nish with bread­crumbs, zest and the re­main­ing agretti, and fin­ish with a driz­zle of fine olive oil.

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