Saturday, January 27, 2007

Crab Cioppino

Tomato Sauce

1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, strained through a garlic press or finely chopped
1 12 oz. can of tomatoes, chopped
6 basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

3 whole fresh crabs (4 to 5 lbs. total)
2 oz. olive oil
3 cloves crushed fresh garlic
crab butter, save butter (roe) from three crabs
6 oz. dry white wine
2 oz. chopped fresh onions
6 prawns in shell, cut in half lengthwise
24 manila clams
24 mussels
1/4 cup clam juice or fish broth
2 fresh crushed tomatoes
1/4 oz. chopped fresh parsley
12 oz. tomato sauce (see above)
1/8 oz. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper to taste

General Procedure:

1. Prepare the tomato sauce

2. Crack and clean crab for preparation

3. Follow instructions for Cioppino recipe

Warm heavy skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and diced onion. When onion becomes transparent, add the garlic and simmer until light brown. Add the tomatoes, basil leaves and cook for 15 minutes.

Cracking a Fresh Crab

Connoisseurs prefer using a live crab with this method. Otherwise, you can cook the crab before cracking.

Place the crab face up with the pincers facing away from you. Hold down the legs with one hand, with the other, pull the sheff off the body with one quick motion. This kills the crab instantaneously. Remove the crab butter from inside the top of the shell and save. Discard the shell. From the crab's body cavity, clean the gills. Crack off the pinchers. Hold each side of the crab with one hand, and crack the body in half. Shake out the remaining crab butter and save. Pull of the legs along with the attached body joint. Place each leg flat on a hard surface. Crack the leg with a blow of a hammer or mallet. Shake off any loose pieces of shell. Set aside crab legs and butter for the Cioppino.

In a 4 quart kettle (or pot), heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until clear. Add the garlic and simmer until light brown. Add the crab butter and let simmer for two minutes. Next, add the wine to keep the butter and garlic from burning. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and red pepper to taste. Reduce for about 15 minutes. Add the broth, salt and pepper and crab. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 8 minutes. (If you cook your crab ahead of time, add the crab to the recipe at the same time you add the clams, prawns and mussels). Add the prawns, clams, mussels, and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle the Cioppino with fresh parsley.

Serves 6

Nunzio Alioto.

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