Among my friends and family, a lot of seafood is consumed this time of year. It somehow feels light and celebratory while retaining the richness and decadence that is essential to December. And in California, it’s so much a part of the season – the Dungeness crab catch begins, generally, right around Thanksgiving.
I can’t get enough of it. It’s sweet and tender and tastes terrific with anything sparkling. It’s great on its own, steamed and then dredged piece by piece in warm butter, or tucked into a warming seafood stew. I’ve done all of the above lately. It makes me feel lucky. Steaming crab in champagne sounds more decadent than it is – the champagne serves the purpose that any dry white would, adding a lovely depth to what is basically a very straightforward butter sauce. And it’s that time of year anyway. We should all have bottles of sparkling things on hand.
Last week I hosted a winter dinner party for friends. It was simple. Cioppino, adapted from my mom’s recipe. Those fancy Gilt Taste potatoes, roasted and tossed with an arugula pesto, inspired by Not Without Salt’s recent recipe. A kale salad. Pears poached in apple brandy, not unlike these.
And last, a vivacious round of Cards Against Humanity, the most hilarious and most terrible game ever. It’s sold out for now, but get on their email list if you like making terrible, inappropriate jokes with trusted friends who aren’t easily offended.
What a tremendous year. Happy New Year, all.
DUNGENESS CRAB STEAMED IN CHAMPAGNE AND BUTTER
For each crab:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup champagne or sparkling wine
3 tablespoons minced flatleaf parsley, divided
This recipe is for cooked crab. Before you buy it, smell the crab to make sure there is no ammoniac odor – a sign the crab is past its prime. Have your fishmonger crack and clean it for you. Use it, ideally, the day you purchase it. Store it upside down on ice in the fridge.
If it hasn’t been cracked and cleaned, remove the top hard shell and thoroughly rinse out and remove the gills and fat. Separate each leg where it attaches to the body. Slice the center of the body in half. Set aside. My friend Anna has a great little tutorial at her site, here.
Warm a large pan or medium, wide pot with lid over a medium flame. If you are cooking more than one crab, use a large Dutch oven or similar pot. Add two tablespoons of butter. Once melted and bubbly, add the garlic, stirring frequently to prevent browning. When the garlic is fragrant, add the champagne. Saute for a couple minutes, then add two tablespoons of the parsley.
Next, add the crab, body and legs, and cover. Steam for about 7-9 minutes. You want to get the internal temperature of the crab to 165 degrees.
When the crab has been thoroughly reheated, remove from pot. Melt the last tablespoon of butter. Pour butter into small serving dish. Add remaining parsley. Serve.