Story last updated at 12/26/2012 - 4:11 pm
Nearly every day in Juneau is a soup day, especially in the winter. Soups, stews and slow cooked meals are the best part of winter. When the temperatures and snow start to fall, I reach for my big pot and start making lots of soups. I make taco soup, tomato soup, chili, meatball soup, corn chowder and vegetable soups.
On occasion I am fortunate enough to have some Dungeness crab in the colder months. This is an exceptional treat. Living in Southeast Alaska, and being married to a fishing guide, I have to say that if I actually bought crab or fish from the store that would not go well for me. It is considered an act of treason. I imagine I would have to walk a gauntlet of shame at Auke Bay Harbor; my husband and numerous of his cohorts throwing herring at me and accusations of farmed fish for dinner. I can't handle that kind of pressure. So I opt to wait until the "dungies" are caught and brought to me.
In the past month I have received quite a bit of crab. We initially have the crab feast and then a few days later I will make something with the remaining crab. I've made dips, pasta, casseroles, and my new favorite - crab stew.
I cooked the first pot of stew for my husband and our neighbor Tate. They were having a guy's night in watching Resident Evil, which I abhor. I don't do zombies. A fact which I've been told is a problem for me, as now I won't be adequately prepared for the pending zombie apocalypse, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. I can't watch a movie with people's faces melting off. But that is another article all together.
Being the considerate wife that I am, I made them a large pot of crab stew and set out to have a girl's night with a few friends. It didn't occur to me that I should remind them that I hadn't taken a picture of the soup yet, so please don't eat it all.
I got home late that evening and was hopeful that Grant had put the remaining soup in the refrigerator. Asking for the kitchen to be clean was wishful thinking, but I was confident the soup was properly stored. I saw the empty pot and sighed a breath of relief. Thinking I might have a tiny bit before I went to bed, I opened the refrigerator and started searching for the soup. There was not a single container that looked like soup. There was roast, some spaghetti sauce, but no creamy goodness. I soon realized they had eaten the entire pot. There wasn't a drop left. I was stunned. The whole pot? Really? My mind strayed to that Seinfeld episode where the soup Nazi shouts "No soup for you!" No soup for me? But I'm the one who made it! Not only did they not clean the kitchen, but they ate all the soup too! Gritting my teeth I head to bed.
Upon cornering the gluttonous mongrels the next day, I began my inquisition. You ate the whole pot? You didn't save me any? Standing before me with eyes downcast, were two overgrown boys appearing quite shameful. I had to use this moment to my advantage. I don't have a picture, how can I do an article without a picture? Shame on you two! They exhibited the appropriate amount of remorse and proclaimed that it was so good they couldn't help themselves. Nice way to play the situation, I thought. They were good. However, I didn't let them off the hook that easily. I made them squirm a bit longer and then sent them on their way to think about what they had done. I then had some quality retail therapy time and bought new shoes.
Last week I had another opportunity to make Dungeness crab stew. As it would happen, I was going out with my girl friends again and the boys were watching another face melting movie. This time I left specific instructions to not eat it all because I needed a picture. Fortunately for their well being, they left me just enough for one bowl.
This week I present a dish that I had to make twice to get one bowl for myself, Dungeness Crab Stew. For those of you who aren't able to check your own crab pots and have no fear of the seafood walk of shame, fresh crab is readily available at most grocery stores. You can also add shrimp or clams to make seafood chowder.
Until next time...
Eat and enjoy,
Dungeness Crab Stew
1 ½ cups Dungeness crab (substitute whatever crab is available)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup celery, diced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup good white wine (or more if you like)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons dried thyme (1 tablespoon fresh)
1-2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1-2 tablespoons brandy
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-heat large pot on medium high heat. Add olive oil, carrots, onion, and celery. Cook about 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook additional 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add flour. Stir frequently and cook 2-3 minutes. You want to get the raw flour flavor out. The flour will turn slightly brown.
Deglaze pan with wine. Scrape all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan and stir well until you have a cream consistency. Slowly add the broth. Keep stirring to ensure everything is well incorporated and there are no flour clumps.
Add half-and-half and continue stirring. Slowly add in heavy cream. The consistency should be thick and rich, but not so thick you can stand a spoon up in it. It's a stew, not a pudding. Once you have reached your desired consistency, add crab and thyme. Stir in brandy. This is a rich flavor so start with a little and add up to 2 tablespoons.
Simmer about 10 minutes on medium low heat. Then add Cajun seasonings to your tastes. Some like it spicier that others, so add what tastes best to you. Add it gradually to get the flavor you desire. Salt and pepper to taste as well. Simmer an additional 20 minutes and serve with garlic bread or a nice green salad.
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@ mealswithmidgi.com.