Thursday, July 10, 2008

Linguine al Granchio

Tues 08 July 2008

Aside from being an opportunity to try something new, WBW also represents an interesting food and wine matching challenge. After all, the fact that it's a mid week event puts some time constraints on the production of a dish. And often we're drinking a wine with which we're not familiar.

Some research suggested (somewhat unimaginatively) that seafood was a good match for Soave. For some reason, I'd been talking about the gnocchi al granchio (gnocchi with a crab sauce) that I used to enjoy at a café on Rundle Street in Adelaide (yes, being a student was tough!). So fate decided our dish - with linguine taking the place of the gnocchi because we seem to have something of a surfeit of dried pasta at home!

This is perhaps not the most accessible of dishes. While the dish is ridiculously easy to put together, many readers may find acquiring fresh crab either difficult or prohibitively expensive. I am lucky in that the market in Leeds has an excellent row of fish mongers. I had a choice of buying whole crabs (the cheapest option, but most fiddly), pots of mixed brown and white crab meat or dressed crabs. While the pots of mixed meat did look quite good value, it was a bit hard to tell what the ratio of white to brown meat would be, so I opted for the dressed crabs. Two reasonably large specimens came in at £8*. Ouch.

Once home, with the linguine set to cook, I heated some olive oil in a pan, threw in some finely minced garlic (two large cloves, one small one) and a sprinkling of crushed red chilli. As the garlic softened I added the crab meat and cooked it gently, adding a good slug of vodka. As the crab meat warmed through in went some cream, a touch more vodka and then I turned off the heat and waited for the linguine to finish cooking. Finish the sauce with a generous handful of chopped parsley.

Toss the sauce through the linguine and serve, with plenty of Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

Absolutely delicious - and on the table in the time it took to cook the pasta!

By luck, I got the crushed chilli balance just right: it had a gentle, warming effect that crept up on you. The Soave went well with the dish - it had enough weight and flavour to stand up to both the full flavoured crab and the warm chilli, with its acidity balancing out nicely the cream and the richness of the crab.

Quite a result, really!

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* The two crabs were more than generous for two people: we had loads of crab meat and I had a very large lunch the next day. If you aren't inclined to be quite so frivolous with the pennies, one dressed crab will serve two just as well. Just use extra cream (and perhaps some white wine) to create a more saucy sauce.
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Blogger Ros said...

I think I'd probably use two crabs, AND some extra wine and cream. But that's because I have a giant to feed.

4:09 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

That might just be being greedy! ;)

8:13 pm  

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