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      RECIPE TITLE "Chesapeake Bay Soft-shell Crab "Sandwich""
    Recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook , Copyright © 1999 by Thomas Keller. All rights reserved.

    yields --- time --- difficultymoderate

    This is not really a sandwich, of course, but the dish was inspired by my love of traditional soft-shell crab sandwiches heaped with tomatoes and tartar sauce. I've refashioned the ingredients of a classic tartar sauce--egg yolks, dill pickles, capers--as hard-boiled yolks, Dijon mustard, and cornichons. On top of the sauce, I put a crouton, then the crab, trimmed down to just its body and claws, then tomato confit, arugula, and fried capers.

      RECIPE INGREDIENTS

    SAUCE

    * 2 hard-boiled egg yolks
    * 2 tablespoons Chicken Stock, heated, or hot water
    * 3 tablespoons cornichon juice
    * 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    * 1/2 cup canola oil
    * 3tablespoons minced cornichons
    * 1 tablespoon minced shallot
    * 1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
    * 2 tablespoons Brunoise
    * Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

    Canola oil for deep-frying

    * 1 tablespoon capers, drained
    * 6 live soft-shell crabs
    * Clarified Butter, for panfrying
    * Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    * Flour for dusting
    * 6 brioche Croutons
    * 6 pieces Tomato Confit, at room temperature
    * 1/4 cup baby arugula (or regular arugula cut into chiffonade--long narrow strips)

      RECIPE METHOD

    FOR THE SAUCE: Blend the egg yolks, chicken stock, cornichon juice, and mustard in a blender. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil so the mixture emulsifies. Remove the sauce to a small bowl and stir in the remaining sauce ingredients. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days: bring to room temperature before serving.

    FOR THE CAPERS: In a very small pot, heat about 2 inches of canola oil to 250 F. Add the drained capers and fry slowly for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bubbles have stopped forming around the capers and they are dry and crunchy. Drain them on paper towels.

    TO CLEAN THE CRABS: Using a pair of scissors, cut off the crabs' faces and discard. Cut off the two large claws where they meet the body and reserve. Cut off and discard the smaller legs and trim the sides of the body for a smooth edge. Lift off the apron, the pointed piece on the underside of each crab. Remove the lungs and any other matter beneath the apron. Rinse the six bodies and twelve claws and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1/8 inch of clarified butter in a large skillet over meduim heat. Season the pieces of crab with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, patting off any excess. Add the crab bodies shell side down to the hot butter. The butter should be hot enough to sizzle when the crabs are added, but not so hot that it pops and spurts from the pan. Saute the crab bodies for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are golden brown and crusty on the bottom. Turn the bodies, add the claws, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; turn the claws after about 1 minute. Remove the crab pieces and drain on paper towels.

    TO COMPLETE: Place a spoonful of sauce in the center of each serving plate. Center a crouton on the sauce and top it with a crab body. Fold a piece of tomato confit in half and place it over the crab. Arrange 2 claws over each piece of tomato and finish with a stack of baby arugula. Sprinkle the plates with the fried capers. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings


    HOT! We recommend:

    The French Laundry Cookbook The French Laundry Cookbook
    Thomas Keller, chef/proprietor of the French Laundry - the most exciting place to eat in the United States, writes Ruth Reichl in the New York Times - is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right. His flavors have clarity and intensity. His methods dazzle. Every mouthful is an explosion of taste. This cookbook, Keller's first, is as satisfying as a French Laundry meal, a series of small, highly refined, intensely focused courses. 150 recipes an more than 200 photographs Keller's wit and whimsy find expression in unique recipes (and titles) such as lobster-filled crepes with a carrot emulsion sauce, topped with a pea shoot salad dressed lightly with lemon-infused oil (Peas and Carrots), or sauteed monkfish tail with braised ox tails, salsify, and crepes (Surf and Turf). This is a book to cook from, to learn from, to savor. Thomas Keller is chef and owner of the French Laundry and the more casual Bouchon in Yountville, California. He was the chef of La Reserve, Raphael, and Rakel in New York before moving to California.

     

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