The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES: DUNGENESS CRAB STEAMED IN CHAMPAGNE AND BUTTER, WINTER FEASTS

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.

  • Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen - I recently had dungeness crab drenched in tobasco butter (from Son of a Gun) and have been wanting to replicate that experience for months. This post has pushed me over the edge. So doing it!ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - Oh my, I wish my holidays were full of fresh seafood! This sounds absolutely divine. I love your pretty table all set up for dinner. Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey - Crab is my favorite thing, at this time of year and whenever. Happy New Year my friend! May 2012 be even better than 2011! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Dramatic Pancake - I am not a huge fan of crab, but this looks incredible! Your table setting is really gorgeous as well. Definitely going to have to check out that card game, as I love making both terrible and inappropriate jokes :) Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - You have literally just made me so happy telling me it is the season for crabs in CA at the moment – I can’t wait to be living in California in time for next Christmas!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Yes, yes, yes! Dungeness crab is a very shiny silver lining for dreary Pacific Northwest winters. When I have my face buried in a platter of crab and oysters, I barely notice that the sun is setting at 4 o’clock. I’m glad to have another crab preparation to try (and a great excuse to open a bottle of bubbly). Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Joy - This looks utterly amazing. I just had a massive Alaskan king crab last night too. I love my crabs!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - There’s nothing to be embarrassed about this at all. Simply divine. Happy New Year to you!ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Well, you’ve really outdone yourself with this recipe and photos! Wishing you a wonderful new year, and thanks for a great dinner party idea!ReplyCancel

  • sara - Oh, this looks so good! I LOVE dungeness crab, and this preparation just looks fantastic! :)ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - What a fabulous post to finish out 2011. I can’t get enough of crab right now myself — it’s some of the fullest and sweetest we’ve had in years. Happy New Year, Kimberley! Wishing you an upcoming year of much happiness and many continued successes.ReplyCancel

  • Ms. T - SOLD! I was debating whether to serve dungeness crab for our New Year’s Eve dinner and this just pushed me over the edge. Gorgeous photos–that looks like a dinner party I’d savor every drop of. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • nicole franzen - Looks divine, happy new year Kim :)ReplyCancel

  • renee - Champagne and crab! You just nailed two of my favorite things. Happy New Year Kim!ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - This looks incredible! Wishing you a very happy New Year!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - Catching up on my reader, beautiful post! I’m completely obsessed with seafood this time of year. Happy New Year, lady!ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - We had dungeness crab a few years ago for new years eve and I think I’ll have to try it again next year! Happy new year!ReplyCancel

  • A Time to Thrive :: Noodles with Crab + Citrus-Chili Oil » Saffron Lane :: Seasonal Food, Celebration + Life - […] this time of year, Dungeness crab is often enjoyed dipped in luscious melted butter, not unlike this decadent recipe from my friend, Kimberley, over at The Year in […]ReplyCancel

  • My Favorites | - […] much do you want to go eat crab after seeing this post from The Year in Food? So. […]ReplyCancel

  • Savoring the Moment: Backyard Adventures & Sweet Lime Posset « Still Simmering - […] crabs, steamed with champagne, butter, garlic and fennel, inspired by this beautiful post on The Year in Food. For dessert, the limes from our backyard tree were the stars. After two years of nurturing and […]ReplyCancel

  • RAFA TRUJILLO - Lovely and simple, where the recipe does not set aside the flavours of the main ingredient. I must try it out.ReplyCancel

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