An Italian pasta from Toronto chef Mark McEwan. "The only mark against crab is the trouble it takes to pick it out of its shell — which is why doing so ahead of time, and serving it with pasta, unfailingly goes over well with guests at the dinner table. Crab meat is sweet, and it loves the company of cream. Here that union is enriched with the addition of a soft-poached egg."
2 frozen Alaskan king crab legs*
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup julienned guanciale**
1/4 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1-1/2 cups 35% cream
1 tbsp crab essence (optional)
14 oz. dry or 20 oz. fresh fettuccine
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp minced parsley
Salt and pepper
4 soft-poached eggs
* The Alaskan King crab legs can be replaced with 1 lb. of any other crab meat that comes in decent-sized chunks. The compilation also works well all'aragosta — with lobster. Two lobsters of about 1-1/2 lb. will suffice.
** You may use pancetta in place of the guanciale. A top-quality bacon will also do in a pinch, but not if it is heavily smoked, which will overpower the sauce.
Step 1: Soak the crab legs in cold water until thawed. Split the shells with kitchen shears and pull out the meat, picking over it carefully for shell fragments and cartilage. Set aside.
Step 2: In a skillet on medium heat, sauté the guanciale in the oil until it begins to crisp. Add the onion, stirring frequently until it begins to wilt. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Deglaze with the white wine. When that has reduced by half, add the cream and, if you choose, the crab essence. Reduce the cream until it coats the back of a spoon.
Step 3: Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Add the crab to the cream sauce. Drain the pasta, and over low heat, toss with the sauce. Fold in the lemon juice and parsley, season, and toss again. Taste and correct seasonings.
Reprinted with permission from Mark McEwan's Fabbrica (2011 Penguin Group Canada).