Every Christmas Eve, chef Renee Erickson of Bateau in Seattle, WA, goes crabbing with her family and friends. "We'll do a simple but decadent pasta. Oh, and lots of Champagne. We don't wait until five 'clock. We're not going anywhere." If you happen to live on the coast, you can certainly cook and pick your crabmeat yourself. Otherwise, go to a market that sells high-quality picked crabmeat.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 8-ounce container crème fraîche, room temperature
- 6 ounces fresh or dried fettuccine or tagliatelle
- 10 ounces cooked Dungeness, king, or jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
- 1 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or Aleppo-style pepper or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Heat oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium. Cook shallot and garlic, stirring often, until soft and golden, about 4 minutes. Add in crème fraîche and cook until mixture is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes (for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.
Using tongs, transfer pasta to skillet with sauce and add crabmeat. Finely grate zest from lemon over pasta and squeeze in about 1 tsp. juice. Cook pasta, tossing constantly and thinning sauce with a few tablespoonfuls of pasta cooking liquid if needed, until pasta is glossy and sauce is the consistency of heavy cream, about 3 minutes. Add tarragon, season with salt, and toss a few more times to wilt tarragon.
Transfer pasta to a platter and sprinkle with piment d’Espelette.