Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Soft Shell Crabs Sautéed with Lemon, Butter and Wine

These delicate crabs are in season twice a year when the ocean waters warm up and the crabs begin to molt and lose their hard shells.  They require a little TLC to clean (a job best done by your fishmonger). Many restaurants in the South offer them fried. I prefer to sauté them in butter and olive oil.

Servings: 4 as a first course, 2 for dinner
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Level of Difficulty: moderate

4 fresh soft shell crabs, cleaned
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium lemon
Unbleached all-purpose flour for dredging
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, ½ stick
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

            Lay the crabs onto your work surface. Season with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice over both sides. Hold onto the lemon rinds for the sauce. Dredge each crab in the flour and shake off excess.

            Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium high heat. When the butter is melted and bubbling, lay each crab into the pan. Cook, turning once until the shells turn pink, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the crab to a pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm.

            Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and lemon rinds. Pour in the wine. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly. Discard the garlic and the lemon rinds. Spoon the sauce over the crab and sprinkle with parsley.

Side Bar:  To make this dish a meal, serve the crab and the sauce over pasta or sautéed collard greens.

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