Blue claw crab sautéed in olive oil, butter and garlic, Yum! I love crab! However my introduction to the whole creature is quite the story. My sweet husband worked for RCA and as a manager belonged to the “Management Club.” Every month different mangers organized an amazing event and hosted the other “men”! On those occasions I would take my mother-in-law visiting. Sometimes it was to Pennsauken to visit Mike and Margaret or other times to Haddonfield to visit Lena. This particular trip was to Lavallette to visit her sister-in-law who happened to live right on the beach in an old Victorian style home. We planned to spend the day and left right after breakfast. When we arrived later that morning we took notice to a few dozen crabs waiting to be cleaned. My mother-in-law was swooning over those beauties. It was suggested that we take them home. As was the custom my mother-in-law would always bring a signature dish to whom ever we visited and we happened to have a cooler! Mom was tickled pink, the crabs were blue and feisty; I was terrified! The decision had been made that I would clean the crabs. Me? I ate crab but had never cleaned one! Gently, Mom pulled me to the side and explained the procedure to me. She handed me a pair of heavy rubber gloves, an ice pick, a pair of tongs then led me to a huge concrete double sink outside of the house. A bushel basket was placed at my feet filled with angry blue crabs waiting to meet their fate. One by one I lifted each crab with the tongs as their claws twisted to snap at my gloved hand. Mom watched as I cleaned the first few and then smiled with pride as she strolled away to have coffee. I have to admit it was quite an experience however, the outcome of crabs and spaghetti the next day was worth it.
Now on to this much simpler recipe of mushrooms and crab. I recently had this as an appetizer at a restaurant in Cherry Hill called Tutti Toscani. It is so delicious I created my version of this recipe and ate it as a meal.
8 -10 ounce of cremini mushrooms cleaned and sliced (I love the mushrooms from Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms at the Collingwood Farmers Market)
2-3 scallions cleaned and sliced (Formisano Farms)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon of butter or ghee ( place 1 tablespoon in a small bowl and let soften)
1 tablespoon gluten-free flour (I like Cup 4 Cup) You can use regular flour
4 ounces jumbo lump blue claw crab (local is best; you can find fresh crab from Maryland in Wegman’s seafood department)
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon sweet vermouth
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (Formisano Farms)
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a saute pan to medium high heat. Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter heat slightly and then add sliced mushrooms. Do Not Salt! Cover and cook about 15 minutes. The mushrooms will release their water and brown nicely. Next add the sliced scallions and cook about 3 minutes. Add the flour to the softened butter and blend well. Stir into mushrooms and cook about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and vermouth then add the chicken stock and a pinch of salt and pepper. The liquid will thicken. Taste for salt. Add crab, stir gently, cover and remove from heat. Let sit about 5 minutes to warm crab meat.
Pile the mushroom crab mixture on a platter and garnish with parsley. Enjoy with some toasted bread. Villa Barone sells a fabulous loaf also found at the Collingwood Farmers Market that would be perfect!