Soft Shell Crabs and Scubla Pomédes

OK… I admit it. When the new issue of Wine Spectator arrives, the first page I look at is the last page! I can’t wait to see the featured chef, the featured recipe and the recommended wines. The May issue just hit the stands and the back page has this insane recipe for soft shell crabs served with succotash that simply “called to me.” I made it on Friday night (thank goodness that soft shells are already in season due to our warm spring). The recipe is easy to reproduce and it is off the charts great!

I opened a bottle of this incredible White Blend from Italy and a French Rosé. I love the Whites coming from Italy’s Colli Orientali… when it comes to blends they have the “magic zizz-wheel”… that style of white is unmatched in the wine world (and that’s coming from a Burgundy lover!). And Provence is home to the best Rosé’s. Both wines were “spot on” for the dishes.

There are two other whites that would also pair exceptionally well… a Bordeaux Blanc or an Albariño from Spain. The chef’s recommendation was for a Virginia Viognier. Actually… there is a Virginia Viognier that I love. It is made by Chrysalis Vineyards… not available in CT (I buy it directly from the winery).

I enclose notes on all the wines… and of course, the recipes!

Scubla Pomédes ’07 (Colli Orientali, Friuli, Italy)

The wine is made by Roberto Scubla and he is one of the greatest white wine makers in Italy. Pomédes is the flagship white wine from the Estate, a blend of 65% Pinot Bianco; 25% Friulano and 10% Rhine Riesling. Grapes are hand-picked just after normal ripening adding richness and depth of flavor. To make the wine whole grapes are gently pressed; the must is then decanted at low temperature to retain the delicacy of the natural fruit flavor; fermenting is done in a combination of French Barriques and tonneaux, half new and half used. Aging on its lees last 8 months and the wine undergoes frequent batonage, with further 10 months aging in stainless steel tanks. The result is a complex, rich, spectacularly perfumed wine. The wine is textural roller coaster loaded with apricots, mango, pineapple, garden herbs, flowers and spice with excellent length and persistence. This is truly a World Class White that we are extremely proud to be able to offer. 310 cases produced… just 70 cases imported to America.

Rimauresq Petit Rosé ’11 (Côtes de Provence, France)

At the heart of the Provence wine region, half way between Nice and Marseille, Rimauresq takes its name from the river Real Mauresque which flows thru the vineyards. The Domaine itself is located at the foot on Notre Dame des Anges and the Massif des Maures mountain range. Rimauresq is just one of a handful of Appellation Côtes de Provence vineyards that was awarded Cru Classé status in 1955. It is from these exceptional vineyards that Pierre Duffort and his winemaking team creates wines of elegance and finesse. 2011 Rimauresq Petit Rosé, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan offers superb aromatic subtlety and wonderful freshness. The fruit aromas are exquisite. And Cinsault with its structure, perfume and softness is the perfect linchpin between the Grenache spice and Carignan fruit that give this Rosé such beautiful dry fruit flavours of soft red fruit kissed with florals.

Ch. Monestier La Tour Blanc ’10 (Bergerac, Bordeaux)

From a five hectare section of Monestier’s 11-hectare white wine, hillside vineyard in the Dordogne River Valley planted at 5,000 vines/ha with 46% Sémillon, 36% Sauvignon Blanc, and 18% Muscadelle whose average age is 25 years. Soils are clay and limestone quite similar to those found on the plateaus of Saint Emilion and Castillon. A fresh, dry wine, with great aromatic definition and very good length on the palate. It displays intense aromas of honeyed citrus, dried herbs, and minerals. Ripe, fig-like and melon flavors become apparent on the palate. Pure and richly fruity, this medium-bodied dry white. Drinking window two years. Stéphane Derenoncourt is the consultant. who also makes some of the greatest wines in Bordeaux: Ch. Pavie Macquin, La Mondotte, Ch.Smith Haut Laffite, Ch. La Gaffelière, Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Prieuré Lichine, Clos Fourtet as well as 60 Wineries around the world.

Adegas Moure Abadía da Cova Albariño ’10 (Ribeira Sacra, Spain)

Abadia Da Cova Albariño is blended with 15% Godello. It was fermented and aged in stainless steel. Fragrant melon, citrus, and floral aromas inform the nose of this rich, savory white. The Godello component rounds the wine out nicely. Drink this tasty effort over the next 4 years. 90pts Wine Advocate; 92pts Peñin Guide to Wines of Spain.

Chesapeake Bay Soft-Shell Crabs With Succotash

Ingredients

6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
A goodly amount of ice
4 blue cheese stuffed olives
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ Vidalia onion, cut into small dice
3 links Edwards smoked sausages, cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
5 ears Silver Queen corn (or other sweet white corn), kernels cut from the cob
1 cup shelled lima beans, parboiled
½ cup Peppadew peppers, julienned
1 Hanover tomato, seeds removed, cut into small dice
½ tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
Juice of ¼ lime
8 jumbo soft-shell crabs, cleaned and gutted
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
2 cups arugula, cleaned and dried
1 cup remoulade (see note in Step 5)

Directions

  1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size. Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming. Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!
  2. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter, onion and sausage, and cook until onion is almost translucent. Add corn and cook until it is almost fully cooked. Then add the lima beans, peppers and tomato to heat through. Add tarragon and a squeeze of lime, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
  3. Salt and pepper the crabs. Mix flour and Old Bay well. Lightly dust the crabs with the flour.
  4. Heat 2 large nonstick pans over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter to each. Place 4 crabs in each pan, top-shell side down, and cook until golden. Flip gently, adding more butter if necessary. Cook until golden. Be careful: Soft-shell crabs may pop and sputter as they cook.
  5. Serve immediately over succotash, with some arugula and remoulade on each plate. Note: To make a quick remoulade, mix 1 cup mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons minced herbs (parsley and tarragon especially), and 1 or 2 minced cornichons. Some people insist on garlic, too. Cover and let meld in the refrigerator.

n.b. I used local soft shell crabs… and freely substituted for the peppers, sausage & tomato.

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