Spider Crab Gratin

Metric version of recipe

Yields 8 portions

Ingredient Amount
For the vegetables  
Butter ½ cup
Olive oil, extra virgin ¼ cup
Shallots, small-dice ½ cup
Sweet onions, small-dice 3 cups
Leeks, small-dice, white parts only 2-1/2 cups
Salt ¼ tsp.
Black pepper, freshly ground ¼ tsp.
For the tomato confit  
Olive oil, extra virgin ½ cup
Shallots, small-dice 3 Tbsp.
Garlic, minced 2 tsp.
Plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4 pounds) 3-1/2 cups
Salt 1 tsp.
Black pepper, freshly ground ¼ tsp.
For the crab  
Spider crab (or Dungeness crabmeat), cooked and cleaned (1-1/4 pounds) 1¼ lb.
Black pepper, freshly ground ¼ tsp.
Cognac 3 – 4 Tbsp.
Bread crumbs 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp.
Butter, unsalted 2 Tbsp.


  1. Prepare the vegetables. Heat the butter and oil over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir in the shallots, onions, leeks, and salt and cook very slowly, stirring frequently at first, then occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft but not browned, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Season with salt and peepper and set aside.
  2. Make the tomato confit. Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a small saucepot. Stir in the shallots and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they reach a thick sauce consistency, about 45 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the crab meat coarsely into ½-inch pieces, season with the pepper, and reserve. Stir the tomato sauce into the vegetables, then fold in the crab. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of Cognac, or to taste. Season to taste with the salt.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Oil 8 single portion gratin dishes and divide the crab nixture among them. Alternately, oil a 10- by 10-inch or 8- by 12-inch ovenproof dish and spread the crab mixture evenly in it. Top with the breadcrumbs and dot with the butter.
  5. Cook under the broiler until the top is golden brown and bubbly, no more than 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully so that it does not burn, and serve immediately.

Additional tips

Recipe credit: Gabino Sotelino, as presented at the Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Presented at Kitchen Workshop II A on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006.

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