Stone Crabs. They are in season, here in Florida, between October 15th and May 15th every year. The traditional approach to consuming the claws of these tasty treats is simple. Cook. Crack. Dip/Eat. Florida Stone Crab pioneer Joe Weiss (Joe’s Stone Crabs – Miami Beach) cemented the eating style, and set the quality bar, over 100 years ago. Still…. there are other ways.
If you are a little more adventurous, you may employ the sweet, delicate meat of the Stone Crab to meet other ends. The key (for this cook, anyway) is to prepare the dish (any dish w/Stone Crab) in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the crab itself. It is a challenge. In general, I tend towards complex spicing in my cooking. Not so much with Stone Crab, though.
In this dish, the leeks and tarragon come together to enhance the natural sweetness of the claw and knuckle meat of the Stone Crab. Take a look, try this out in your kitchen and let me know how you fared.
10-12 Stone Crab Claws, cooked
1/3 Cup pine nuts
2 Cloves garlic
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Large leeks
1/4 Cup Rhine wine
1 TSP dried tarragon
1 Cup heavy cream
1/4 Cup 1/2 & 1/2
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 Tsp fresh lemon juice
4-6 ounces dry angel hair pasta
The starting point.Not an overly intimidating pile of ingredients.
The Tarragon Leek Sauce
Apply a coarse chop to the leeks and garlic. Use all of the tender (both white and green) portion of the leeks.
In a heavy skillet, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter and saute the leeks and garlic until tender. Should take 5-6 minutes or so. Take care not to brown the aromatics.
Add the wine, cooking the mixture another 3-4 minutes or until the juices have evaporated sufficiently. Next, add the cream, 1/2 & 1/2, tarragon, salt, white pepper. Bring back to a slow boil and simmer, stirring as needed, for 10 minutes to thicken the mix. Remove from the heat and puree the contents in your blender. Set aside for later use.
The Stone Crab Claws
It’s time to crack some claws. For this recipe the claws were procured, cooked and on ice. To crack, I use a wooden rolling pin and a deft touch:) If you’ve not cracked Stone Crab claws before, Google it up. There are a wealth of videos showing various methods for extracting the meat from the shell. However you go about the process, be mindful of the shell fragments. It only takes a little shell in with the meat for you to gain an appreciation for why the crab has the word “stone” in its name. Also, don’t ignore the knuckle meat. It is super tasty and worth the extra effort to get out nice and clean.
Once you have the meat extracted, set aside for the final prep. This is a great time to get your pasta cooked, rinsed and ready for plating.
In the skillet, toast up the pine nuts. You are looking for a light brown color. As they are toasted pour the contents from the blender into the skillet, stir and heat for 1 minute.
Flake the crab meat into the sauce, squirt in the lemon and heat through for 1 minute. Take care not to “cook” the crab meat. just heat it up. Next we plate it all up. Ladle your creamy sauce over the cooked pasta, get your sides in place and head for the dining room. You’ll note (below) that at our table, Stone Crab also serves as the appetizer with the meal too. I love the mustard sauce made famous at Joe’s Stone Crab. See the recipe here.
Give this dish a whirl. you’ll not be disappointed.
Tight lines and good eats.