This time of the year much ado is made about Christmas supper, and rightfully so.
Is there another meal that is as important to us, whether it is because of the religious significance or because it is an import time for the family to get together?
Few other holidays even come close, so making sure to have that just right menu is very important.
Turkey, pork, beef and chicken are more traditional selections for the main course but there are alternatives, especially for those of us who live on the Gulf of Mexico.
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Fresh seafood is a natural choice. There are dozens of recipes that are not only delicious, but are a part of our cultural heritage. Gulf-to-table dinning is about as good a holiday choice as you can make, for your family, for your community, and for your bank account.
Jumbo lump crab meat is expensive. If you have not put aside some funds for the holiday feasts, then you will be in sad shape. Fresh, sweet crab is a real treat and a delicacy that most of the world craves and we can find it almost at our door steps. If you just can't afford the best, buy what you can, but never stay away from canned crab.
1 pound jumbo lump crab
7 ounces crème fraiche
1 chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2-3 teaspoons salt packed capers
Fresh ground black pepper
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
Cilantro to garnish
Carefully pick over the crab to remove any small pieces of shell the packer missed. If you can't find crème fraiche, cut a little sour cream with a few teaspoons of heavy cream, it isn't as good, but will do. Combine all of the ingredients, being carefully so as not to break up those beautiful big lumps of crab. Now taste and season as necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use, then artfully garnish with the cilantro. Serve this salad with a nice Pinot Gris or a dry Riesling.
1 cup rice
1 pound large shrimp
1/2 cup chopped smoked sausage
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 (14 ounces) best quality tomatoes
Black pepper, red pepper flakes, Old Bay Seasoning
Green onions for garnish
Butter and oil as needed
Season the shrimp and then sauté very quickly in a hot skillet with a little oil and butter. Do not cook more than 3 minutes max. Remove and set aside. In the same pan cook the sausage until well browned, remove and set aside. Add the vegetables, with a little more butter, and sauté for 10 minutes, at a
reduced heat. Remember to season as you go. Add the tomatoes and sausage (optionally add a glass of wine if you like) and simmer for 15 minutes. While the sauce simmers add 1 cup water and 1 cup chicken stock to the rice, cover and simmer until tender. Add the shrimp to the sauce, and heat just to warm. Plate the rice, top with the shrimp and sauce and serve immediately. Serve with a nice little Gruner Veltliner.
CRAB MEAT AU GRATIN
1 pound crab meat
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sherry
1-2 pinch salt
1-2 pinch black pepper
Dash Valentina Hot Sauce
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Make a white sauce by combining the butter, flour, and milk. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and well incorporated. Add the sherry and hot sauce. Now taste and season accordingly. Add the crab, mixing carefully, pour into ramekins, top with cheese and bake at 350 f until bubbly and brown. Serve with a cold, locally brewed bear and crusty French bread.
If you insist on overcooking your oysters, please move on and don't even think about using this recipe.
Listen carefully; if your oysters are not too cold, if the oil is hot enough, and you don't over crowed the pot, oysters are wonderfully cooked, just crispy on the outside and still moist and juicy in the inside, in less than 1 minute.
For every second you continue to cook them, they will decline in flavor and texture.
Fresh oysters still in their liquor
Panko bread crumbs
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
Deep heavy pot suitable for frying
Clean canola oil
Heat the oil to 360 degrees. Do not fill the fryer or deep pot more than half way full, to do so is to rick a serious fire. Drain the beautiful oysters, toss in the dry tempura powder, which you have seasoned with the Tony's seasoning, until well coated. Now set aside until they become tacky or spritz with water to hurry up the process. Toss in the panko until coated. Carefully add a few oysters to the hot oil. Look at your watch or count the seconds off out load; 1, 2, 3 . . . when you get to 50 remove the oysters and let drain on paper towels. Now try one, being careful not to burn your month. Proceed until all the oysters are cooked, but it is vital to serve immediately. If left longer than 3 minutes, they will start to become soggy. Serve plain or on top of a green salad. Serve with the best sparkling wine, Champaign or Italian Prosecco you can afford.