Freddy Bird, Executive Head Chef at the Bristol Lido loves unpretentious food, cooking on fire and Mediterranean food designed for sharing. Here is one of his favourite dishes from the Lido menu for you to try at home.
Baked Crab & Hot Buttered Toast
I’m never too sure what part of this recipe most excites our customers - I'm sure it’s the crab but every time I use the words ‘hot buttered toast’ everyone's inner school boy can’t resist it!
This is a slightly lengthy recipe but well worth the effort.
At the restaurant we would boil and pick fresh crab meat and use the shells and body to make stock. To save time at home use prawn heads to make the stock (save the bodies for another day) and buy fresh crab meat, ready picked. Of course if you do go to the trouble of cooking your own crab the results will be always be better! My only caveat - never use pasteurised crab meat - it’s utterly tasteless!
My recipes are never precise, they rely on regular tasting and personal judgement. Following a recipe to the letter rarely makes a great dish.
For the ‘stock’
A couple of large handfuls of prawn heads (or crab bones if using)
1 stick celery - roughly chopped
1 onion - roughly chopped
1 carrot - roughly chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
Large knob of butter
1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/2 star anise
A few black peppercorns
A couple each of tarragon and dill stalks (you’ll use the leaves at the end)
A small slug of brandy and a small slug of pernod
Fry the prawn heads in the butter until lightly browned. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic and spices over a low heat until the vegetables are softened. Next add the booze and cook out until almost evaporated. Then add the herb stalks, tomato and cover with water. Simmer gently for around 35-40 mins. You want to be left with an intense shellfish stock. This is the key to the dish - a limp flavourless stock will create a limp flavourless dish!! This needs to be gutsy! Strain and set aside.
For the dish
1/2 fennel bulb, very finely diced
1/2 red onion, very finely diced
2 cloves garlic, very finely diced
Butter for cooking
A dessert spoon of equal quantities of chopped tarragon and dill
The prawn/crab stock
A couple of teaspoons of dijon mustard
A small slug of double cream
1 x 450g pot white crab meat
1 x 225g pot brown crab meat
Sweat the fennel, onion and garlic in butter until soft and very lightly caramelised at the edges. Season to taste. Pour in the stock and a little cream. You’ll need approximately two cups of liquid to carry the amount of crab. If necessary reduce the liquid a little over a low heat. Whisk in the mustard and add the herbs. Tip in the crab meat, mix, taste for seasoning. Transfer to portion size, oven proof, serving dishes and refrigerate until you need them. If serving them from hot just pop them under the grill until golden and serve immediately with hot buttered toast. If you’re preparing them earlier and keeping in the fridge bake in a hot oven (I’m lucky enough to pass them through the wood oven to lend a delicate smokey flavour) until golden and bubbling.
Well worth the effort, I promise!
Thanks Freddy, this looks amazing and we're keen to impress our family and friends with this recipe!