Stone Crab Claws in Phyllo with Truffle Butter
Stone crab claws -- that's the only part we eat -- became popular in Florida, and their popularity has spread. The are sold cooked and chilled or frozen, and the season is November to May. (If you live near the Gulf you might get them all year long.) When the crabs are caught, one large claw is snipped off and the live crab is returned to the sea where it will grow another. Chef Weisz is aware that if you reheat the cooked crab claw it could dry out. So he solves that problem with a dollop of truffle butter. The chef uses fresh truffles, which are extremely expensive because this aromatic
underground fungus defies cultivation. The best truffles are black and come from France. Canned truffles are also sold; however, their flavor does not compare to fresh. So to approximate the flavor of truffle butter, without the expense, we suggest you either purchase imported prepared truffle butter, available in 4-ounce tubs from gourmet grocers. Or else you can make a Truffled Mushroom Butter. This elegant looking appetizer is quite easy to fix, especially if you take the chef's suggestion and brush the phyllo with extra virgin olive oil or prepared basil oil or clarified butter (see Cooking Basics) instead of the lobster butter. But we give you a recipe for lobster butter as well.
- Lobster Butter (recipe follows) - 1 cup, or extra virgin olive oil, or basil oil, or clarified butter
- Stone crab claws - 8, frozen, cooked, defrosted if frozen
- Phyllo Sheets - 3 frozen, defrosted 14-x18-inch
- Fresh Thyme - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Fresh Chervil - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Fresh Tarragon - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Freshly ground pepper - to taste
- Prepared Truffle Butter or Truffled Mushroom Butter (recipe follows)
- Zucchini - 1/2 pounds, about 1 large or 2 small
- Parsnips - 1/2 pound, peeled, about 2 to 3 medium
- Saffron Threads - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Unsalted Butter - 1 to 2 tablespoons
- Shrimp Sauce (recipe follows)
- Fresh chervil sprigs - garnish
- Chives - garnish, chopped
- Lobster Butter (Makes about 1 cup)
- Lobster Pieces and Extra Shells - 1 lb. chopped
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 pound, 2 sticks
- Shallots - 1/2 cup, chopped, about 2 large
- Fresh Thyme - 1 small bunch,
- Truffled Mushroom Butter (Makes about 1 cup)
- Dried porcini mushrooms - 1/2 cup, reconstituted
- Pinch of salt
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 pound, 2 sticks, softened
- Black Truffle-flavored Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Shrimp Sauce (Makes about 2 cups)
- Shrimp Shells - 1 pound
- Garlic Clove - 1 large, chopped
- Shallots - 2, chopped
- Tangerine juice - 1 large or 2 small tangerines
- Tangerine Zest - 1/2 tangerine
- White Wine - 1 cup
- Thyme Sprigs - 2
- Tomato - 1 large, peeled, seeded, chopped (see Cooking Basics)
- Fish Stock (see Cooking Basics) - 2 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
With a mallet or the back of a French knife, crack the stone crab claws shell up to, but not including, the black claw tips. Remove the shell from the meat, leaving the black tip on for presentation.
Lay phyllo sheets on work surface. Cover with a damp towel to prevent drying. Starting with the first phyllo sheet, brush completely with lobster butter, or extra virgin olive oil, or basil oil or clarified butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon each of chopped thyme, chervil and tarragon. Lay a second sheet of phyllo over the first, pressing out air pockets. Repeat with oil and herbs. Lay a third sheet of phyllo over the second. Brush with oil, but do not sprinkle with herbs.
Place 1 tablespoon of Truffled Mushroom butter on the meat of the crab claw. Place crab claw on edge of phyllo with black tip sticking out, and cut phyllo strip to fit, about 2 inches wide. Roll crab claw in phyllo down to one-half of the strip. Cut. Place phyllo wrapped crab claw, seam side down, on lightly oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining claws. Brush
phyllo tops with lobster butter, or olive oil, or basil oil.
Meanwhile, trim and slice zucchini into uniformly thin lengthwise slices using a mandoline or French knife. Peel parsnips and slice in the same way. Separately julienne zucchini and parsnips into thin, fettuccine-like strips. Blanch zucchini in boiling salted water. (See Cooking Basics). Bring saffron to boil in water until it releases its color. Strain water; return to pan; discard saffron threads. Bring to a boil. Blanch parsnips until pliable but not overcooked. (See Cooking Basics.) Drain vegetables well.Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place together in a saucepan; mix gently with 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. Keep warm.
Place baking sheet with phyllo-wrapped crab claws in a 350 F oven until phyllo is crisp and golden and crab claws are heated through, about 10 minutes.
To serve: Using a long-tined fork, twirl a small bunch of zucchini and parsnip fettuccine into a bundle. Place one small bundle each on 8 warm serving plates. Prop one each phyllo-wrapped crab claw against bundle, black tip upward. Spoon sauce around the plate. Garnish crab with a sprig of chervil, and sprinkle plate with fresh chopped chives.Serve immediately.
Combine all ingredients in a heavy gauge non-reactive saucepan with oven proof handle and place in a preheated 350 F oven for 45 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard solids. Set butter aside.
Truffled Mushroom Butter
Fresh black truffles from France are prohibitively expensive for the home cook; however, 8.3-ounce (250 ml) bottles of oil flavored with black truffles, imported from France, are available from gourmet grocers for about $20 per bottle. Combined with robustly flavored dried chopped mushrooms, this butter is a good substitute. It can also be used to flavor steaks and lamb chops, and makes an excellent topping for crostini and bruschetta.
Cover with water and soak mushrooms overnight. Rinse the mushrooms thoroughly under running water to remove any sand. Strain mushroom soaking liquid through a coffee filter. Place mushrooms and filtered soaking liquid in a small saucepan, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Liquid should be almost completely evaporated, but pan should not boil dry. If there is more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of juice, raise heat to evaporate. Place mushrooms and any juices on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, dice into a very fine duxelle. Set aside.
In a small bowl, using a large spoon or rubber spatula, cream the butter and truffle oil until incorporated. Then add mushrooms and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape mixture into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
In a non-reactive saucepan, combine shrimp shells, garlic, shallots, tangerine juice and zest. Over medium high heat, cook until shallots are translucent but not browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add white wine and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Add fish stock. Over medium high heat, continue to cook until liquid is reduced by half. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a blender, pressing with a spoon against solids to extract liquid. Discard solids. Blend until frothy with 2 tablespoons butter. Keep warm.