Crab: Buying, Cooking, Cracking
This hearty fish stew is one of our favorite dishes for fall and winter—bring a loaf of hot, crusty bread to the table, and dinner is served! Be sure to pass crab crackers and warm hand towels.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 tablespoons chopped fennel (reserve fennel fronds)
• 3 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
• 3 tablespoons minced shallots
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 cup bottled clam juice
• 1 cup water
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 1 pound P.E.I. [Prince Edward Island) mussels
• 8 ounces Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed
• 8 ounces Dungeness crab legs in the shell
• 1 (8-ounce) white fish fillet (such as halibut, cod, or tilapia), cut into chunks
• 6 ounces large (21 to 30 per pound) shrimp, shelled and deveined
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
• In a large, heavy saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped fennel, onion, shallots, and garlic and saute for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden brown. Stir in the wine, then the tomatoes, parsley, pepper flakes, clam juice, water, and salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the butter and stir to melt. Remove from the heat.
• In a large, cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and toss in the mussels and clams. Cook, uncovered, for 4 minutes. As the mussels and clams begin to open, add the crab legs, fillet, and shrimp and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shrimp turn pink. Discard any mussels or clams that do not open. Add 1 cup of the tomato mixture; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the saucepan with the remaining tomato mixture and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
• Ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with basil, garnish with the reserved fennel fronds, and serve.