Last night I took a class called “Dungeness Crab Mania” at the local culinary school. I’ve taken a few classes there before and they’re a ridiculous value. They’re fun, you get to try some perfectly-matched rare wines with your food, you eat everything you make and you learn from your fellow classmates just how little you really know about cooking.
The executive leader of the school, Chef Barbara Alexander was our instructor and walked us through ten crab and supporting crab dishes last night. The way their classes work is that everyone breaks into teams and works on two of the ten dishes. My team, composed of a lovely former caterer and building contractor, worked hard on our Roasted Garlic Crab and the Arugula, Orange and Pecorino Salad.
The recipes belong to the lady that wrote ’em down, so, hear that?
These are Chef Barbara Alexander’s recipes!
Arugula, Orange and Pecorino Salad
However if I were naming this salad, I’d name it “The Surprisingly Good Salad”
The ingredients are sort of, “Hey, I’ve had this before, how good could it be?” But the actual delivery is hot-damned better than I imagined. The class seemed to think so too.
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
(This thin slicing thing is important. These onions should be as thin as you can get them.)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
2 bunches arugula, washed well
2 medium orange, segmented
1/2 cup sun dried Moroccan black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Parmesan or Pecorino shaved with a vegetable peeler
I know, the salad has olives and oranges in it and yet it doesn’t taste like olives and oranges. It tastes beyond olives and oranges. And as a reformed black olive hater, I’m sensitive to these things.
Mix the red wine vinegar and sugar together. Toss the onions in the vinegar and sugar and allow to marinate at least 30 minutes, drain, reserving the vinegar mixture. Look at you making pickled onions!
Right before serving, mix vinegar mixture and olive oil together and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper
Toss the arugula, orange segments, olives, marinaged red onions, pine nuts and parmesan or pecorino in the dressing.
Serve immediately on a big platter.
Roasted Garlic Crab
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves of garlic chopped
8 tablespoons of butter
2 lemons, cut in half
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely choped
Sea Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. In our class, we used their superhot wood fired oven, but I’m sure your rental kitchen’s Kenwood will do.
In a very large saute pan, heat the olive oil until hot, add the butter and the garlic.
This is important, this part. My group and I put all the ingredients in the pan at once and brought it up to high heat and were gently told, “..the good thing about cooking is that you can do it right the next time…”
Don’t brown the garlic, please.
Add the crab to the pan (you may need 2 pans). Season well with salt and black pepper. We used the greyish sea salt, that was suprisingly tasty. I never thought I needed a reason to upgrade from kosher salt until I tried this salt. Maybe it was the crab, maybe the experience of the class, but shut it, I’m going to try sea salt from now on.
Place the crab in the oven and roast, stirring every now and then until the garlic begins to brown and the crab is hot (about 15 minutes).
Remove the crab from the oven, squeeze the lemons over the crab and toss in the parsley
Now go sign up for a cooking class at your local community college stat!