Donald Link‘s new cookbook Down South is a love letter to the southern cuisine and comfort he says is part of his DNA. From barbecued pork tenderloin to gumbo, the James-Beard Award-winning chef delves into traditional southern cooking and offers his own interpretation.
This recipe for Shrimp and Crab Spaghetti marries Gulf seafood with a “decadent tangle of spaghetti” to create a deliciously buttery flavor.
Serves 4 to 6
I’ve often thought of certain foods as flavoring ingredients. Smoked ham hocks and bacon are perfect examples. In this case it’s the shrimp heads and the crab fat and juice. When cooked down into a seafood broth—an essential layer of flavor in this recipe—they provide a deep, distinctive taste. This decadent tangle of spaghetti is luxuriously rich in crab: both meat foraged from the whole crabs and additional lump meat. The hot chiles elevate, brighten, and lighten the dish while pulling all the flavors together. This is just the kind of buttery dish that you want to dive into with after a day on a boat or the beach.
½ pound medium shrimp
3 medium blue crabs (this should yield an additional ½ pound lump crabmeat)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound dried spaghetti or cappellini
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
½ pound jumbo lump crabmeat
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil
Peel the shrimp, coarsely chop, and reserve the shrimp and shells separately. Clean the crabs: Split each crab in half to open. Pull out the plate from underneath. Use your fingers to pull out the yellowish-orange fat from both sides of the back shell and reserve. Discard the lungs and the helmets (the back of the shell). Add any more crab fat (from both sides of the shell and the head area) to your stash. Pick the meat from the shell; you should have ½ pound. Reserve the meat, shells, and fat separately.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan until hot and shimmering. Add the shrimp and crab shells, the onion, bay leaves, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until the shrimp shells turn pink and all the ingredients are fragrant and coated with oil, about 3 minutes.
Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer until you have about 1 cup broth, 12 to 14 minutes. (You’ll need ½ cup for this recipe; the rest freezes well.)
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the shrimp, crab fat, garlic, and jalapeño and cook until fragrant and sizzling, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in ½ cup of the shrimp stock and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pull the sauce together. Add the lump crabmeat, parsley, and basil.
Stir to combine and then toss with the cooked pasta. Serve immediately.