Pecan Flour–dusted Soft Shell Crab with Roasted Garlic-Tomato Butter
After soft shell crabs dusted with pecan-laced flour are sauteed, the chef uses the pan juices, roasted garlic tomatoes, and lots of butter to create the sauce. There are several individual recipes in this dish — the roasted garlic tomatoes, pecan flour, and garlic olive oil — that may be used in other dishes as well.
- Roasted Garlic Tomatoes
- Tomatoes - 4, halved, cored, and seeded
- Olive Oil - 1⁄2 cup
- Garlic Cloves - 4, peeled and thinly sliced
- Thyme Leaves - 2 tablespoons, fresh
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Pecan Flour
- Pecan Pieces - 2 cups, toasted
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups
- Garlic powder - 2 teaspoons
- Onion Powder - 2 teaspoons
- Salt - 2 teaspoons
- Black Pepper - 1 tablespoon, cracked
- Garlic Olive Oil
- Cloves Garlic - 9, peeled
- Olive Oil - 3 cups
- Asparagus - 1 pound, fresh, peeled
- Olive Oil - 1⁄2 cup
- Parsley - 2 teaspoons, fresh, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Soft-Shell Crabs - 4 jumbo
- Garlic Olive Oil (above) - 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- Pecan Flour for dusting
- Shallots - 2 tablespoons, peeled and chopped
- White Wine - 1⁄4 cup
- Chicken Stock - 1⁄2 cup
- Cold Butter - 10 tablespoons
- Parsley - 1⁄4 cup, fresh, chopped
- Green, Red, and Yellow bell pepper - 1⁄4 each, seeded, deribbed, and minced
To prepare the roasted garlic tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 275 F. On a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil place the tomato halves cut side up. Drizzle with the olive oil, sliced garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven 5 hours or until the tomatoes are shriveled, and have lost most but not all of their moisture. Transfer the tomatoes to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
To make the pecan flour: Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a small shallow pan spread the pecans in a single layer and bake 5 to 8 minutes until the nuts are golden. Transfer the pecans to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until smooth. Add the flour, garlic and onion powders, salt, and pepper, and pulse to combine. Use a rubber spatula to push any pecans clinging to the side of the bowl into the center.
To make the garlic olive oil: Place the garlic and oil in a saucepan set over very low heat and simmer until garlic is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar or bottle and cover. (Since the recipe makes more oil than you will need for this recipe, enjoy the leftovers spread on toast for what the chef calls a “monumental snack.”)
To cook the asparagus: Prepare a grill or preheat the oven to 500 F. Remove the tough ends of the asparagus, and place in a medium bowl. Combine the olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper, and pour over the asparagus. Toss the asparagus in the oil and transfer to the hot grill or place on a half-sheet pan and cook in the preheated oven. Cook, turning occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes until tender.
To cook the softshell crabs: If the crabs have not been cleaned by the fish monger, clean them by turning them on their backs and pulling off the triangular apron. Lift up the side flaps and pull out the spongy gills. With scissors, cut off the face just behind the eyes and gently press above the legs to pull out the bile sac. Rinse the crabs under cold running water.
Dredge the crabs in the pecan flour, shaking off the excess. Heat 3⁄4 cup of the garlic olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over high heat. Add the crabs top side down and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the crabs are crusty and brown. Gently turn the crabs with a slotted spatula and cook for 1 minute. Remove the crabs with the spatula and place them in a separate pan. Keep the crabs warm in a slightly warm oven while finishing the sauce.
Return the crab-cooking pan to the stove, and heat 2 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil over medium-high heat. Being careful not to burn any of the pecan flour that may be remaining in the pan, add the chopped shallots and sauté 1 to 2 minutes until tender. Add the white wine, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon. Add the chicken stock and chopped roasted garlic tomatoes, and reduce to 2 tablespoons. Remove the pan from direct heat and add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each piece has been incorporated into the sauce before adding the next. If necessary, briefly return the pan to the heat to melt the butter. The finished sauce should be smooth and thick and glossy. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve: For each serving, arrange a portion of asparagus on the plate and place 1 softshell crab in the center. Top with some of the roasted garlic tomato butter, chopped parsley, and minced bell peppers.