I went on a wild goose chase trying to get uncooked crabs for this dish. It seems it’s something people don’t ask for much around where I live, so I in the end had to get cooked one from my fishmongers. I would have steamed mine, to have sweeter meat, the ones I bought were boiled (I think boiling is the more common method). A word of warning thought, if you’re not used to handling crab, and taking the meat out yourself. It is pretty fiddly! Now, I could’ve also bought crab at the fishmongers, where the meat had already been taken out, served on the big back shell (this excludes the claws and legs). I, however wanted all the pieces of shell, for making the stock, to use it in the risotto.
1 large crab, all the shells once the meat has been removed
1 celery stick
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt
2 stalks of parsley
3 stalks of thyme
2 litres water
1 tbsp tomato paste
250g uncooked arborio risotto rice
150ml dry white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
handful of chopped dill
meat from 1 whole crab
800ml stock (made from the shells)
1. Pull the claws and legs out of their joints. A good way to do this is twisting (rotating the whole joint) and pulling out at the same time.
2. Remove the meat from the crab shell. This can be fiddly and time consuming. Make sure you scoop out all the cavities of the mid-body, legs and claws. Also, there can be cartilage pieces inside bigger pieces of meat, holding the meat strands together, make sure to check and remove these.
3. Place the shells (including the mid-body carcass), onion, garlic, celery, peppercorns, carrot, bay leaves, parsley and thyme in a large pan with the splash of olive oil, and fry for about 5 minutes until it starts getting fragrant. Add the brandy, and bring to boil, until the mixture doesn’t smell of alcohol anymore. Add the water, salt and tomato paste. Bring to boil, and boil uncovered for about an hour.
4. Strain through a fine sieve. I would recommend using an additional piece of muslin, to leave all the muck behind, and getting a very nice, fine stock. When straining the stock through, you will need to keep scraping the bottom of the sieve with a wooden spoon, as the muck will collect at the bottom, stopping the liquid draining through.
5. Place the oil, butter and shallots in a pan, and fry for 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, celery and bay leaves, and fry for 1 minute.
6. Tip all the rice in, and stir, to coat it all in the oil / butter mixture, for about 3-5 minutes. Add the white wine and let it bubble, stirring the rice.
7. Little by little, start adding the stock, stirring the rice until the liquid has disappeared, then adding more.
8. Once all the liquid has been used, stir all the crab meat in. Season to taste, and stir some cut dill in.