Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crustacean Celebration: Chowder-rific!

Can you say $2.99 to $3.99 per pound for cooked crab on sale?

Why so cheap? Well, crab season is winding down, and prices are falling at the store for this most precious of seasonal delights. In the spirit of getting it while the getting's good, we attended another crab feed with friends Denise and Keith the other night for an evening in their new garage and a rousing game of flip-cup. (Trust me, it's not a game you want to play in the house.)

Then last night, since my friend Norma Cravens of Springwater Farm had blessed me with her recipe for a crab and mushroom chowder and I wanted to try it before the crabs scuttled away till next season, I ran to the store and picked one up. Cooked and cleaned, of course.

With the recommended dash of dry sherry, this is a magnificent chowder, more stew than soup, and definitely guest-worthy with a crusty loaf and Caesar salad. Rich and luscious, it would be perfectly complemented by a smooth sauvigon blanc or bright French chardonnay.

All I can say is, "Thanks, Norma!"

Crab and Wild Mushroom Chowder
Adapted from Norma Cravens of Springwater Farm

2 tsp. unsalted butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1/2 c. yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. celery, minced
1 leek, white part only, chopped fine
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 russet potatoes, diced into ½ cubes
4 c. chicken stock
2 Tbsp. arrowroot or cornstarch
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. sea salt, to taste
1 c. heavy cream (or Tofutti sour cream for the lactose-intolerant)
1 lb. or so fresh crab (meat from 1 med. crab works great)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, onion, celery and leek in butter until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and sauté briefly. Add mushrooms and sauté till tender. Add the sherry and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add the chicken stock, raise the heat to medium high and bring to a low boil. Blend the arrowroot with enough cold water to form a thick slurry. Slowly add the slurry to the stock while whisking gently, and return to a boil until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. This should take between 20 and 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper and cream and return to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Divide the crabmeat into 8 heated bowls, then add the hot soup and serve.*

* I reserved the larger pieces of crab meat from the legs and claws and used them as a garnish for each bowl, sprinkled with finely chopped parsley.

Check out these other examples of the crabby-licious goodness that is the Crustacean Celebration at GoodStuffNW: pasta with crab and radicchio; hot artichoke and crab dip; crab crostini; killer crab cakes; Beach Cioppino and, of course, a crab feed.


Ivy said...

I can just hear Julia in her high pitch warble now, "Just a dash a sherry is all you really need to make a wonnnderful chowder..." It's what you do with the rest of the bottle of sherry that counts ;)

Kathleen Bauer said...

Hear, hear! Thanks, Ivy! (Great Julia impression, btw…)