Saturday, July 10, 2010
Spaghetti e Salsa di Granchio
(Spaghetti with Crab Sauce)
This is a traditional spicy Southern Italian seafood pasta dish and, while the traditional recipe calls for whole crabs, it works equally well with King or Snow crab legs. Hint: REAL Italians DO NOT use cheese as an accompaniment with seafood pasta sauces.
1 pound dry spaghetti or linguini
4 large blue crabs or 1 pound of thawed frozen king
crab legs, cut into 3" pieces (2 pounds if you can find lump crab meat)
1 pound lump crabmeat
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tablespoons softened butter
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (San Marzano tomatoes preferred), drained, and hand crushed
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, plus additional for garnish
1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves for garnish
1. In a large pot over medium-high heat bring the olive oil to the ripple stage and add the butter. When the butter melts add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, do not allow it to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the pepper flakes, the salt, the ground black pepper, the basil, the parsley, the crushed tomatoes and their juices. Stir to combine the ingredients and allow to come to a simmer.
2. Increase the heat to high, add the crabs and bring to a boil. As the sauce comes to a boil lower the heat until you achieve a gentle simmer, stir in the tomato paste and cook the sauce and crabs for about 30 minutes.
3. After the 30 minutes remove the crabs to a serving bowl and keep warm in an oven set to about 150° F.
4. If there are large chunks of tomato still in the sauce and it's not to your liking, crush them using a potato masher to achieve the consistency you prefer, unlike Americans Italians prefer their tomato sauce to be slightly chunky. Add the lump crab meat stirring to distribute and allow the sauce to continue simmering for an additional 15 minutes until the crab meat is cooked through.
5. Lower the heat under the sauce to low to keep it warm.
6. Bring a large spaghetti pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. When the water is rapidly boiling add the spaghetti and cook it until it is al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
7. Meanwhile, correct the seasoning of the sauce with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. If the sauce is too tight, loosen it using a little of the reserved spaghetti cooking liquid (not too much, Italian sauces are meant to be a little tight).
8. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine evenly and to reheat the pasta.
9. For service either divide the sauced pasta among warmed service bowls, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and garnished with additional chiffonade basil or, for a family style service, plate the sauced pasta on a large service platter drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil and garnished with the additional chiffonade basil and serve with the crabs on a separate platter accompanied by plenty of crusty Italian or French bread and extra red pepper flakes for the real Italians.