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Tapas Bookshot

dear cooks,

Tapas are Spain's gift to the world of great cooking: a fresh and fun way to eat with friends and family—and easy to prepare at home. They make excellent fare for holiday parties, and are sure to delight guests. Tapas exemplify the lively, casual spirit of Spanish cooking, and no one better captures it than Chef José Andrés. Rapidly becoming Spain's unofficial culinary ambassador, Andrés has a growing restaurant empire in Washington, D.C., and has received awards and recognition from the James Beard Foundation, a slew of foodie publications, and internationally renowned chefs. Recently named Bon Appétit's Chef of the Year, José is a new star in the culinary world.

In his new cookbook, Tapas, Andrés presents plates of simple and simply prepared foods, deftly combined to provide pure, exciting bursts of flavor in a way that is eminently practical for the home cook.  From fish dishes such as Salt-Baked Red Snapper to pork plates such as Chorizo Cooked with Hard Cider and Figs with Spanish Ham, to Potato with Allioli and Spicy Sauce and Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Cabrales, these dishes deliver a unique hybrid of the best Spanish culinary traditions with the open-minded approach that lies at the heart of American cooking.

Buen provecho!

— Txangurro —
Basque-Style Stuffed Maryland Blue Crabs

This tapa is based on a fairly modern Basque-country dish, which has become very much a part of the mainstream. Basque people love their crabs, and txangurro has grown into something of a national dish in the region. For me, the most frustrating part of preparing this dish is that I rarely finish making it. Why? Because I love to eat the meat as I'm cleaning the crabs.

Serves 4 

ingredients

For the Crabs:

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 8 fresh blue crabs (see tips), preferably female (about 2½ pounds total, to yield
    one-third pound of meat)

For the Filling:

  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ leek, white part only, well washed and finely chopped
  • 1 guindilla chili pepper (or your favorite dried chili pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish brandy
  • ¼ cup Txacoli (a Basque white wine) or other fresh, young white wine
  • 6 fresh tarragon leaves
  • Salt to taste

to prepare

Cook the crabs: Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add the sea salt. When the water is boiling, drop in the crabs and cook for 8 minutes. Drain, and allow the crabs to cool. Then remove the claws and legs, taking care to keep the upper shell intact. Working over a bowl to collect the juices, remove the meat from the claws, legs, and body. Reserve the juices and the crabmeat. Carefully clean and set aside 4 of the empty shells.

Prepare the filling: Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. Place a grater over a bowl and grate the open side of the tomatoes into the bowl. Discard the skin. Strain the grated flesh through a sieve to produce 2 cups of tomato puree. Set it aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown a little, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the leeks and the guindilla, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.

Add the brandy and the wine, and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the tomato puree and cook until it thickens and begins to darken in color, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the crabmeat. Add the crab juices and the tarragon. Stir to combine, and add salt to taste.

To serve, place an empty crab shell on each plate. Fill the shells with the crabmeat mixture. Serve with a teaspoon on the side.

 

José's tips

If your time is limited you can buy crabs already cleaned and boiled. Just make sure that they have not been seasoned and are very fresh. If you can't find Maryland blue crabs, you can always substitute Dungeness crabs from the West Coast.

 

 

win a copy!

Win a copy of Tapas. To enter, send an e-mail to crownmarketing@randomhouse.com with
"Tapas" in the subject line.
(official rules)

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happy cooking!

 

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