THE CHRISTMAS CRAB
PART 1: CRAB TEA (this can be made the day before) Ingredients
Shells from one whole medium crab, meat removed. 1 stick of celery, 1 medium carrot, ½ medium onion, ½ bulb of fennel, 6 sprigs of thyme, 2 star anise , ¼ tsp tomato puree, 1 medium glass of white wine.
Roast crab shells for 45 minutes at 165C, removing halfway through to break shells into smaller pieces using a rolling pin. Then add the celery, fennel, carrot and onion, roughly chopped, to the roasting crab shells, and cook for a further 40 minutes. Place crab shells and roasted vegetables in a large saucepan and de-glaze the roasting pan with white wine. Cover the shells and vegetables with water, ensuring there is an extra few centimetres of water to allow for reduction, then add thyme, star anise, tomato puree, and the wine you used to de-glaze, and bring to a simmer for three hours, removing all impurities from the surface of the liquid regularly. Then pass through a sieve into another saucepan. Reduce the liquor by half until a robust crab flavour is achieved and season to taste.
PART 2: SOFT BOILED EGG AND CRAB BUTTER SOLDIERS Ingredients
Half of your crab’s brown meat, salted butter – equal in weight to the crab meat, 2 slices sourdough, 4 medium free range eggs.
Mix the crab meat with the salted butter, blending thoroughly with a fork, add a few drops of tabasco or Worcestershire sauce if desired. When almost ready to serve your Christmas Crab, soft boil your egg in simmering water for 5 minutes 10 seconds. Toast your sourdough and spread your crab butter, then cut into soldiers.
PART 3: CRAB CROQUETTES WITH A VIRGIN MARY REDUCTION Ingredients
The remaining half of brown crab meat, one quarter of your crabs’ white meat, 1 tsp salted butter, ½ small onion, finely chopped, 25g plain flour, 175ml whole milk, ¼ tsp tomato puree, ½ tsp English mustard, a little freshly grated nutmeg, 1 medium free range egg, beaten, 100g panko breadcrumbs. Rapeseed or sunflower oil for deep frying.
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the onion until softened. Stir in the flour and cook on a medium heat until it looks like sand - approximately 20-30 seconds, and gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is thick and glossy. Cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tomato puree, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Allow to cool a little then stir in the crab meat. Spoon into a bowl and cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. When this mixture has cooled, chill until the mixture has set, about 2 hours. When ready, use tablespoons to make eight quenelles, dip in egg, and carefully coat in breadcrumbs. Bring your frying oil to 180C, and use a slotted spoon to lower your crab croquettes into the oil. Cook for about 2½ minutes until golden brown.
VIRGIN MARY REDUCTION Ingredients
200ml passata, ½ tsp Worcester sauce, ½ tsp Tabasco, a pinch of Maldon sea salt, a pinch black pepper, 10 celery leaves, roughly chopped to serve.
Combine ingredients (excluding celery leaves) in a small saucepan, and reduce by half.
WHITE CRAB MEAT
Take the remaining white crab meat, a few drops of lemon juice, Maldon sea salt and a twist of freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp roughly chopped flat parsley and mix together!