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Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs with Braised Scallions, Broccoli Rabe, and Dried Tomato Pesto



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A Silhouetted Boat Fishing for Soft Crabs
A Silhouetted Boat Fishing for Soft Crabs
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Madden, Robert
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Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs with Braised Scallions, Broccoli Rabe, and Dried Tomato Pesto

Mario Batali Simple Italian Food:
Recipes from My Two Villages

by Mario Batali, 1998, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc.

Serves 4

“Blue crabs caught between May and September [earlier in some areas of the country] that have shed their hard shells in the annual effort to further their
growth process are known as soft-shell crabs. Avoid leathery tough-skinned crabs and certainly the dead or seemingly asleep, selecting lively, energetic crustaceans with soft pliable skin that is flexible even along the outer edges and with all ten
legs intact. To clean them use sharp scissors to snip off the eyes, mouth, and facial features, and pull away the cartilaginous tail piece shaped like the underside of a turtle, beneath the abdomen in the back. Many remove the gills but I find them delicious and leave them in. Always clean soft-shell crabs immediately prior to cooking and cook until well done, as some crustacean harbor bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal problems – even death – if not fully cooked.
”Choose medium-size softies for this dish and always check to be sure that they
are not leathery before you buy them. Some weeks are better than others for
these farm-raised delicacies, so always buy from a fishmonger with whom you
have developed a relationship – it really makes a difference.”

8 ounces broccoli rabe, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
24 scallions or spring onions,
root ends trimmed
1/2 cup sweet vermouth
Salt and pepper
12 prime, medium soft-shell crabs
1/2 cup Dried Tomato Pesto
[recipe follows]

Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan, and prepare an
ice bath.
Drop the broccoli rabe in the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes; drain,
then plunge into the ice bath to refresh. Remove the florets from the broc-
coli rabe and cut the stems and leaves into 1-inch pieces.
In a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil until just smoking. Add
the scallions and cook 2 minutes, stirring often, until just wilted. Add the
broccoli rabe and vermouth and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes, until the
scallions are quite soft. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and cool
to room temperature.
Preheat the grill or broiler.
Clean the soft-shell crabs [see above]. Grill the crabs until crisp and bright red, about 5 minutes on each side.
Divide the rabe mixture among 4 plates. Place 3 crabs on each plate, drizzle
2 tablespoons of the pesto around each serving, and serve immediately.

Dried Tomato Pesto

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in
boiling water for 10 minutes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a blender, puree the tomatoes, their liquid, and the remaining
pesto ingredients until smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the
blender and set aside. Makes 1 cup.

More from Chef Mario:
Antipasti from Mario Batali's
"Simple Italian Food"

At Home Comfort Food
Grilled Shrimp with White Beans, Rosemary,
Mâche, and Mint Oil (Mario Batali)

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