Crab Flan with Artichoke Purée
This beautifully presented dish is called “Flan de Tourteaux” at Alain Chapel. The tourteaux are large crabs available -- and highly sought -- in France. While the tourteaux are not available everywhere, every region has a favorite crab meat; use the best you can find. Each bowl has a slender tower of artichoke heart purée and crab meat embedded in the center of a soft flan made with seafood stock.
- Crab-Artichoke Molds
- Artichokes - 6 to 8 large
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- Flour - 1 tablespoon
- Tomatoes - 3 large, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Leaves from 1 sprig thyme
- Garlic Cloves - 2, crushed
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Fresh Crab Meat - 1 pound, 2 ounces, the coral from the crabs (if available)
- Seafood Stock - 1 quart
- Eggs - 6
- Button mushrooms - 2 cups, small
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup
- Salt - 1/8 teaspoon
- Tomato - 1 small, peeled, seeded, and diced small
- Chives - 10 - , minced
To make the crab-artichoke molds: Peel the artichokes and remove the leaves and chokes, leaving the bases. Rub with lemon as you peel them. Put in water to cover a large saucepan and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour into the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and drain. Let cool.
Mix the tomatoes, thyme, garlic, and olive oil in a medium saute pan and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have cooked to a thick, pasty consistency. Press and mix with a wooden spoon to blend into a loose paste.
Pick over the crab meat and mix with a wooden spoon to break up the large pieces and blend the meat. Add the tomato paste and blend. [Note: If beginning with fresh crabs, boil in salted water for 20 minutes, then cool. Separate the meat from the shell, reserving any coral. Pick over for any bits of shell. Mix the coral and crab meat well before adding the tomato paste.]
Purée the artichoke hearts with the tablespoon of olive oil; you should have at least 1-1/2 cups of purée. Place tall, 1-1/2-inch or 2-inch diameter ring molds in the center of 10 ovenproof serving bowls. Fill the ring molds half way with artichoke purée, and fill the remainder of the way with crab meat. Press down gently to firmly pack the molds.
To make the flan: Whisk the eggs until very well blended. Add the cold seafood stock and whisk until blended. Pass the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve. Carefully lift the ring molds from the crab-artichoke molds. Ladle the egg-stock mixture gently around the crab-artichoke molds. Place a large deep baking pan or bain marie over two stove burners. Place the bowls on a rack in the pan and pour hot water two-thirds of the way up the sides of the bowls. Cover the pan or seal loosely with foil. Steam 5 to 8 minutes, until the flan jiggles slightly when moved. Remove.
To make the mushroom garnish: Saute the mushrooms in the butter until lightly browned. Season with salt and stir in the tomato dice and minced chives.
To serve: Dry the bottoms of the bowls and place on serving plates. Sprinkle around the flan in each bowl. Place a mushroom cap in the center of the crab mixture in each bowl.