Sauteed Soft Shell Crab with Polenta
This easy-to-prepare dish is a wonderful way to enjoy the delicacy of soft-shell crabs. The creamy polenta cakes provide a textural contrast to the crabs, and complement their flavor. Serve this with sauteed zucchini or summer squash. The polenta may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Dust the circles with flour and fry just prior to serving.
- Polenta Cakes
- Milk - 2/3 cup
- Chicken Stock - 2-1/4 cups, rich
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Instant Polenta - One 13 oz box
- Parmesan Cheese - 1/4 cup freshly grated
- Creme Fraiche - 1/3 cup
- Flour - For dusting
- Soft-shell crabs - 8, cleaned
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Flour - For dredging
- Vegetable Oil - 1/2 cup
- Clarified Butter - 1/2 cup
- Lemon-Herb Butter
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Lemon Juice - Juice of 1 lemon
- Parsley - 1 teaspoon, minced fresh
- Chives - 1/2 teaspoon, minced fresh
- Tarragon - 1/2 teaspoon, minced fresh
To make the polenta cakes: Combine the milk, stock, salt, and white pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly,until the mixture has thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cheese and creme fraiche, stirring well to incorporate. Continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and spread the mixture onto a greased baking sheet, smoothing it into an even 1-inch layer with a rubber spatula.
Set aside until the polenta has cooled and hardened. Cut out 8 circles of polenta with a 3-inch round cutter. Dust the circles lightly with flour on both sides and set aside.
To prepare the crabs: Pat the crabs dry and season with salt and pepper.Coat the crabs with the flour and set aside. In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Place the crabs, top-shell down, in the oil and fry for 2 minutes. While the crabs are cooking, heat the clarified butter in a 10-inch saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Place the polenta cakes in the pan and saute, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Remove the cakes from the heat and place in a very low oven to keep warm. Turn the crabs and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the crabs and drain on paper towels.
To prepare the lemon-herb butter: Add the butter to the pan that held the crabs, increase heat to high, and cook until the butter is browned but not burned. Add the lemon juice and herbs. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
To assemble: Arrange 2 polenta cakes on each plate and top with 2 crabs. Spoon the lemon-herb butter over each plate and serve.