Panfried Soft-Shell Crabs with Wilted Escarole
- SERVINGS: 4 FIRST-COURSE OR 2 MAIN-COURSE
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- 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large head of escarole, cored and cut into 1/2 -inch-wide strips
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon oil from the jar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 medium soft-shell crabs, cleaned
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- In a nonreactive medium sauce-pan, warm the olive oil. Add the escarole and cook over high heat, stirring, until wilted. Reduce the heat to moderate, add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in the anchovy fillets and oil; reduce the heat to moderately low. Cover and cook, stirring twice, until the escarole is tender, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and swirl in 2 tablespoons of the butter. Remove from the heat.
- On a large flat plate, mix the flour with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pat the crabs dry with paper towels. Dredge them in the flour, shaking off the excess.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter; when it stops sizzling, put in the crabs, undersides up. Fry over high heat, turning once, until crisp and cooked through, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat if the oil gets too smoky.
- Gently reheat the escarole and taste for seasoning. Spoon the escarole and lemon sauce onto plates, set the crabs on top and serve hot.