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Chef Andrew Carmellini's Crab on Toast

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Dustin Aksland
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Like any region with a distinguished seafood heritage, our Chesapeake Bay has attracted national, even international attention. Chefs around the country have taken notice of our traditions and have found inspiration on the shores of the bay.

Here in Baltimore, an accomplished New York City chef has come to town to open a pair of restaurants. Rye Street Tavern and Rec Pier Chop House are under his supervision.

In order to incorporate local flavor into his menus, Chef Carmellini spent time on the Easter Shore absorbing ideas for his kitchen. He came away impressed with how versatile the blue crab can be, and how superb the Chesapeake Bay rockfish is. He intends to rotate new ideas into his menus on a regular basis to present Maryland seafood at its best. Here is one of Chef Carmellini's best crab recipes.

Crab on Toast by Chef Andrew Carmellini

Serves 6

Ingredients:

*Garlic cream*
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh-ground black pepper 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
6 oz lump crab meat

*Toast*
12 slices ciabata bread (or 2 slices per person)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium zucchini, cut in half and sliced thin into moon shapes (about 1 cup) pinch salt
pinch fresh-ground black pepper
1 small can crushed tomatoes
1/2 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeds removed, and sliced thin

Method:

Garlic cream:

1.      Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

2.      Add the sliced garlic and saute, stirring constantly, over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until they’ve turned golden in the center and brown on the edges. The garlic will crisp up a bit but you don’t want to let it burn.

3.      Add the heavy cream, turn up the heat to high, and let the cream boil until it’s reduced to 1/4 cup (about 7 minutes). You should have a pretty thick cream.

4.      Add the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir everything together so it’s combined.

5.      Put the lump crab in a small bowl, pour the cream overtop, and stir the cream completely into the crab. Check the seasoning, and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne if you think it needs it; then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside on the counter (you don’t want to cool it down.)

Crab toasts:

1.      Toast the bread so it’s crisp and golden (you can also do this on the grill if you’ve got one).

2.      Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, saute for about 30 seconds or so the zucchini is coated in the oil, and then season with the salt and pepper.

3.      Keep cooking the zucchini, tossing or stirring constantly, until it’s just soft and the green color has intensified--about 90 seconds total from the time the zucchini goes in the pan.

4.      Lay the toast out on a board. Spread each one with about 1 tbsp of the tomato pulp, and then lay 1 spoonful of the crab mixture overtop on each half of each piece of bread, so each piece has 2 evenly spaced mounds. Cut the toast in half (so each half has 1 lump) and then place 2 or 3 pieces of the zucchini on top of each crab mound. Add a slice or 2 of jalapeno and serve right away. 

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.