Aack!! I’m missing the beginning of Dungeness crab season.
I know, I know, you guys are used to me being on the cusp, cutting edge, the very tip-of-the-spear of Pacific Northwest seafood acquisition.
(please play stirring, operatic music while reading that line of bullshit)
Not to worry, because even though I’m writing this from a lounge chair, poolside in my sister’s backyard, cocktail in hand; and not still salty from the boat, or by the stove in the Bait 2 Plate kitchens, I have a recipe chambered and ready. I wouldn’t want to disappoint all of you who have already been getting crabs, whether they are Dungeness, blue claw, or the kind you get from that special someone you met just before last call at the Sip & Scratch Lounge.
…No wait, I shouldn’t have included that last one. For that you’ll need to see a doctor and get a prescription for a topical solution of piperonyl butoxide. Umm…. so they say!
You know, let’s move on, shall we?
I’ll be home soon, soaking pots for my own catch of crab. Until then, this crab focaccia is a really fun way to serve your catch. This is one of those recipes that you can pair with a green salad to make a light, summery meal; or it works as a hearty side dish, and is also a great item to bring to a pot luck party.
Focaccia is a bread that is vaguely pizza crust like, but thicker & softer obviously. I adapted a potato focaccia recipe of mine for this, as it’s somewhat more substantial than the standard, and that balances with the meatiness of the crab nicely. The basil, garlic, cheese & sun dried tomatoes help the bread lean slightly more in the pizza direction.
I could have added the crab meat on top as it is, and it probably would have been just fine. However, I decided to mix the crab with some cream cheese and a touch of Old Bay seasoning before putting it on the dough. That not only made sure the crab didn’t dry out while baking, it also added some creaminess and an extra pop of flavor to the pockets of crabmeat in the bread.
- 1 envelope dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 lbs potatoes, boiled & mashed
- 1 Tbs kosher salt
- 1½ lbs bread flour
- 6 oz sun dried tomatoes, reconstituted in warm water, drained & sliced
- 12 each fresh basil leaves, chiffanade (cut into slivers)
- 1 lb cooked, picked crabmeat: find my recipe for basic cooked crab HERE
- 6 oz cream cheese
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbs Old Bay seasoning
- ½ cup shredded reggiano or asiago cheese
Pour the warm water into the bowl of an electric mixer, and sprinkle the yeast over top. Allow the yeast to dissolve and begin to bubble, about 10 minutes.
Mix in the cooked, mashed potatoes, milk, eggs, olive oil, garlic and salt, until well combined.
Using the dough hook attachment of your mixer (use the paddle if you don’t have a hook) turn the mixer on low speed and add the flour in increments.
Continue to mix on low until the dough forms together in a ball and is slightly springy and just a little sticky to the touch, this will take 4-6 minutes.
When the dough is almost done mixing, add in 1/2 the sun dried tomatoes and basil and mix until they are evenly blended through dough.
Note: If you don’t have a mixer, this can all be done by hand, but that will require about 20 minutes of hand mixing & kneading.
Transfer the dough to an oiled mixing bowl, fold it and knead it 3 or 4 times. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise for 2 hours.
You can alternately let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.
Heat the cream cheese in the microwave until it is very warm and soft. It should be soft and spreadable as cake frosting. Mix in the lemon juice and Old Bay.
Gently fold the crab meat into the cream cheese, being careful not to break up the lumps.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the bread dough from the bowl and press it into a oiled baking sheet pan. Use your fingertips to stretch it and spread it out in the pan as evenly as you can.
Using a spoon, add the crab mixture on top of the dough in dollops. You want the crab mix to be distributed in little mounds or pockets, do not spread it evenly over the dough.
Once all the crab is on the dough, sprinkle the remaining sun dried tomatoes, basil & shredded cheese evenly over the top.
Let the pan sit in a warm spot and rise for 20 minutes before baking.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the bread is browned on top and is firm but springy when poked. Uh…. be careful not to poke it a spot where there is crab, that will be gooey & hot.
Serve this right away if you can. Even if you have made this to serve later, cut off a piece & eat it right now. Then leave a comment thanking me for that piece of advice.
Any of this you are not going to eat immediately, package up in ziplock bags and refrigerate. Don’t forget that this isn’t just bread, it’s a seafood dish. Keep it safe, kids.