2013 Dungeness Crab Season Is Fantastic!

Cioppino Dungeness Crab

It has been a great Dungeness Crab season so far in 2013. For the past 3 weeks, we have been able to get plenty of good sized, fresh crab from our local grocery store. I try and pick out ones that are around 2 pounds – this is about the perfect size for 1 person to eat, comfortably. And at about $5 – $7 a pound, you really can’t find a more luxurious ingredient to make a fancy dinner out of, be it cioppino, a full on crab boil, or just a simple crab in garlic white wine sauce (recipes for each are below).

I really didn’t enjoy crab much until I was introduced to the local Dungeness Crab we get fresh here. I think this is probably because the crab I grew up eating was shipped in and had long since been frozen. Also, I was intimidated by what I assumed was a complex process of cleaning, cooking, & cracking – all for a little tiny piece of flaky meat.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Fresh crab is very easy to cook and the reward can be as luscious as a beautifully prepared lobster tail. And for the most part, the crab you are getting from the local grocer is actually already pre-cooked so you really just have to clean it and then heat it back up. If you are really lazy, they will even clean it for you.

Cleaning a pre-cooked Dungeness Crab is pretty simple though – just watch this 1 minute video from an expert to see how easy it is.


How To Clean A Dungeness Crab In Less Than 1 Minute

The only thing I do a little different from this video is that I don’t wash it as thoroughly or violently as he does towards the end. Depending on which recipe I am making, I like to keep some of the green stuff from the innards so I scoop that out and reserve it in the shell. I can then add it to whatever sauce I might be making later. Also, instead of spraying it so harshly, a simple rinse down preserves the integrity of the meat.

Once it is cleaned, it is just a matter of deciding which recipe you want to add them too. Regardless of which one, since they are already pre-cooked, the crab only needs to be in the heat for about 7-10 minutes.  Here are a few of my favorites-

Crab in Garlic & White Wine

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Stick of butter
6 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 cups white wine
1 cup water or clam juice
2 Dungeness Crabs, pre-cooked & cleaned (reserve some of the green stuff)

Method:

Heat the olive oil and butter on low heat in a Dutch oven and sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in the reserved green goodness from the crab (for this recipe, I use as much as possible). Add white wine and bring to a low boil to cook of the alcohol (1-2 minutes). Add the water or clam juice and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce. Add crab and cover, simmer for 7 minutes. Serve from the pot on the table. The broth at the bottom makes for fantastic dipping.

Crab Boil

Ingredients:

8 small potatoes (like red new potatoes or equivalent)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 stick of butter
4 Garlic cloves pressed
2 Andouille Sausage sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 Corn on the cob broke in half
2 Dungeness Crabs, pre-cooked & cleaned (reserve some of the green stuff)
1/2 pound of uncooked, shell on large shrimp
Tony Chacheras Creole Seasoning
Cracked Pepper
1.5 cups White wine
1.5 cups Water

Method:

Start by parboiling the potatoes – you will finish them off in a simmer for about 7 minutes so you want them just undercooked.

In a large Dutch oven, Heat olive oil and 1/2 stick of butter over low heat and sauté the garlic 4 minutes. Add the Andouille sausage and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved green goodness from the crab. Pour in white wine and bring to a light boil to burn off alcohol (about 1-2 minutes). Add the water and reduce heat to low-med. Add the corn, crab, shrimp and potatoes, season liberally w/ the Creole seasoning & pepper. Place lid on and simmer for 7 minutes. Serve right out of the pot on the table. The broth at the bottom makes for fantastic dipping.

Cioppino Recipe

See my previous post here. This is a great recipe, but I tweak it around depending on what all I have on hand and what looks fresh at the store. The picture in this post here is a slimmed down version from the original in that, from a seafood perspective, I only used Dungeness Crab, Mussels, salmon, and canned clams. I also mixed it up to give it a more Spanish flavor – nixed the celery and subbed the red peppers for Spanish roasted peppers and added smoked paprika. Although I think we say it every time I make this, it was the best broth ever!

 

 

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