01 March 2011

To Portland or Bust: Oven Roasted Dungeness Crab

I told you almost a couple of weeks ago now, that Kevin and I were heading up to Portland for the weekend. Well, we went. We had an amazing time with friends, ate a ton (and I literally mean a ton) of food, notably at Screen Door, drank gallons (and I literally mean gallons) of wine and beer, showed Kevin the sights around the city, then took a day trip to the Oregon coast. After driving through the mountains, we started the day at Cannon Beach. With the huge rocks jutting out of the ocean, the place is beyond gorgeous. Unfortunately, without rain in the forecast, the moment we stepped foot out of the car, the sky fell upon us. We took a short stroll down to see the rocks a little better, but got soaked to the bone, and shivering, I couldn't snap any photos.
A beautiful drive down the 101 took us eventually to Tillamook. Along the way, we made a couple of pit stops to catch the views, as the clouds parted, of course, the minute we got back on the highway. If you've ever been to Tillamook you know that there is a mandatory stop at the creamery. We took a short tour of the place (my engineering senses buzzing with views of all the mixers and process equipment), ate sample after sample of cheese, then sat for a few minutes to enjoy a quite large amount of their ice cream (delicious)!
Directly across the highway we spotted this great little fresh sea food stop, so we ran in, grabbed a few dungeness crabs, and made our way back to Portland. With a recipe that I'm pretty sure changed my life (orange zest, use orange zest people!), we gobbled up the crab as quickly as they were prepared.
Now, if this story were a fairy tale, I would have for you in this post the recipe for said crab. Oh wait, I do!! I do, I do! Hopefully Jess won't be too disappointed that I snooped around the internet and found the secret to her MAJOR crab success. I'm not joking when I say this changed my life. I've never actually prepared dungeness crab before this last experience (though all I really did was help Jess with some chopping and measuring), but I'm pretty sure that I don't need to look any further for another recipe. I can't imagine ever, ever getting tired of this. If it wouldn't have been bad ettiquette, and remember I'm a southern lady, I would have mopped up all that sauce with a whole loaf of baguette and eaten every last crumb, and if there was no bread, I would have licked the plate. Yes, yes I would have licked the plate, but not to worry mother, I didn't. I was as refined as one can be while eating crab, which is to say not very refined at all, but not crude either.
If you're planning on making dungeness crab sometime, seriously try this recipe!

And if you're planning a trip to Portland, here are links to a few places I've been and absolutely loved:
Ken's Artisan Pizza - delicious pizza, delicious everything. be prepared to wait; it's worth it!
Cupcake Jones - bite size cupcakes let you taste a few. flavor change daily.
Screen Door - great southern style food. come VERY hungry for brunch, get a spicy bloody mary, and splurge on the calories (I can recommend bananas foster french toast, and kev had biscuits + gravy with friend chicken)
Adelsheim Winery + Erath Winery (not in Portland, but a trip to Willamette Valley is so worth it!)
Powell's Bookstore - huuuge selection, both new and used. plan to spend a few hours in here. plan to get lost.
Voodoo Doughnut - ok, I haven't actually been here, but I'm going next time! p.s. you can get married in the store, too.
Pambiche - Cuban food + Drink (white wine sangria, need I say more)? 
Moonstruck Chocolate - famous, delicious chocolates
Papa Haydn (Jo Bar) - went for lunch while shopping on 23rd, delicious salad + wonderful sangria
Shopping on 23rd St. - loved the neighborhood, great shops, lots of restaurants (see above)
Food Carts - most were closed when we tried to go. There are a ton of them, lots of clusters, and I can't wait to check some out!
The Observatory - if you're in NE Portland. Deliciuos and interesting cocktails. Good food.

Oven Roasted Dungeness Crab
recipe from Bon Appetit, February 2005, here
note: this sauce is for want of a better word, MAH-JOR, so get rid of those silly crab forks and dig in with your fingers. Serve with crusty bread. Also, read the comments below & find out doubling the sauce is a very good idea! I won't change the recipe, but write in bold DOUBLE the sauce, folks, double up.
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 large Dungeness crabs, cooked, cleaned, and cracked (about 4 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 500°F. Melt butter with oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, shallot, and dried crushed red pepper. Add crabs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley over crabs. Stir to combine. Place skillet in oven and roast crabs until heated through, stirring once, about 12 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer crabs to platter. Add orange juice and peel to same skillet; boil until sauce is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over crabs. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon parsley. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

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