Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Crab and Shrimp Raviolis

Last year, I went to a cooking expo in Washington, DC. Giada De Laurentiis was there and made a delicious looking butternut squash pasta with shrimp. After the event, I made a similar dish, but added a few tweeks of my own (like white wine to the sauce and swapping pasta for ravioli to name a few). It was a huge success. Raviolis are easier to make than most people think and I encourage everyone to try it.

  • 1 lb of blue crab meat
  • 1 lb of shrimp
  • 5 Tbsp of butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 packages of wonton wrappers
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of wine
  • Fresh basil
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

First, seperate about 3/4 of your crab meat and put it in a bowl. Save the other 1/4lb for garnish at the end.

Next, de-head, de-shell, de-vein and remove the tail from your shrimp. You can buy them this way already, but where's the fun in that? Reserve 2 shrimp for every guest you will be serving (for garnish again).

Chop up the shrimp and add them to the crab meat.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan.

We are trying to clarify the butter, so let cook until the water boils away and the milk fat browns and sinks to the bottom.

Filter this into a glass and you have clarified butter. Add the butter to the crab/shrimp mixture

Add a tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning. Once again, a must for seafood in Maryland.

Add a healthy dose of Kosher salt and a little freshly ground black pepper.

Chop up 2 cloves of garlic and add to the mix.

Dice a medium yellow onion and add to the mix.

Chop up a small handful of basil leaves and add to the mix.

Stir it all up and this wonderful mixture will become the filling for our raviolis.

These are wonton wrappers. You can find them in your produce section of the grocery store. They make making ravioli so simple. You don't have to mess with creating your own dough when you can sandwich these together.

Here is my setup for making ravioli. On the left, I have the wonton wrappers covered with a moist paper towel to prevent them from drying out. Next to them, I have the crab and shrimp filling. I also have a little dish filled with water to help me seal the edges. I have a large cutting board for my workspace. And finally, a tiny spoon to scoop the filling and a regular fork to crimp the edges. This is a double setup b/c I had a wonderful sous-chef for this meal.

Place a tiny amount of mixture in the center of one of the raviolis. Wet your finger and run it around the outside edge of the half-ravioli and then place another wrapper on top. It is very important to try and remove as much air as possible as that can make them fall apart.

When you are sure all your edges are sealed and the only thing inside is filling (no air), you can crimp the edge with a fork like this:

I have a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet here. This is where I put my finished raviolis. Any extra raviolis will go in the freezer just like this for an hour. That is enough to individually freeze them and you can then put them in a ziploc bag. If you won't have extras, just store these in the refrigerator until we are ready to cook.

Take a butternut squash and chop off the top. Then peel the skin off the whole thing. Scoop the seeds out of the base and perform a rough dice on them.

Toss the squash in a pan with two more cloves of garlic and two tablespoons of butter. Don't forget the salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally until squash is soft. Add one cup of wine to the mix. It doesn't matter if it comes out of a box or bottle.

Add one cup of chicken stock and let it cook down and reduce. We want this to be a little thinner than a regular red pasta sauce, but not much.

When it's reduce enough, throw it in a blender to smooth it out.

In another pan, cook your reserved shrimp and set aside.

In the meantime, melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan and add the left over 1/4 lb of crab meat seasoned with a little Old Bay. We are just trying to warm this up, it's already cooked.

Add a large handful of chopped basil to the butternut squash sauce and leave on low.

I assume you have a large pot of water boiling by now. If not, you should have done that 5 steps ago. If so, go ahead and drop your ravioli. They should only take a couple minutes. Drain them when complete.

To serve, put a few raviolis on the plate and spoon sauce on top. Add the crab mixture and place the shrimp on top. Garlic bread is a great side dish.
Now you have no excuse not to make your own ravioli. It's simple to do and you can customize them however you want. Here's one more picture of the finished product:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Garlic Chicken

Wow, long time no post. I apologize for my disappearance from the Internet, however I am back with the EASIEST dish you will ever make (and it's quite delicious too). Garlic Chicken is a wonderful way to serve roasted chicken and you can do it in under 10 steps! The basic premise of this dish is to slowly roast the chicken with garlic until the garlic caramelizes. This will turn the bitter garlic into a sweet treat!

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 30-40 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh thyme
  • Your favorite chicken rub
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

First, take your chicken and break it down to 8 pieces. You can buy a chicken that is already chopped up, but it's a little more expensive and everyone should know how to butcher their own chicken anyway.

You should end up with eight pieces. 2 wings, 2 legs, and 4 breasts (cut the two full breasts in half horizontally). Make sure you save the backbone and all those other pieces for chicken stock and clean your counters with an antibacterial soap if your chicken touches it like I know mine did.

Sprinkle your chicken with your favorite chicken rub and a little salt and pepper (both on top of and underneath the skin). I am using McCormick's Grill Mates Chicken Rub but feel free to substitute with your favorite seasoning.

Now here is the toughest step, peeling clove after clove after clover of garlic. It's a painstaking chore and luckily my wonderful girlfriend volunteered (or was forced, it's a grey area) to do this step for me. Bless her little heart :)

Next get a roasting pan and liberally place garlic and thyme across the bottom.

Place the chicken on top of that.

Next, add some lemons (sliced up in eighths).

Then comes more garlic and thyme.

Drizzle the whole thing with the half cup of olive oil and then throw into an oven that's been preheated to 350°.

Leave it in there for a solid 90 minutes. The last couple minutes I like to turn on the broiler to get a nice char on the skin. The final result is wonderfully flavorful, falls off the bone and should look surprisingly like this: