Italian Crab Fingers

Back when Amy lived in New Orleans, she frequented a Mid-City neighborhood restaurant called Mandina's. What drew her, especially, was an appetizer called "Crab Fingers in Wine Sauce." Not only were they delicious -loaded with garlic, wine, butter and breadcrumbs - but they were fun to eat. Little crab fingers swam in that rich mixture and one had to dig in with their own fingers, find one, nibble off the sweet crabmeat, and lick their fingers clean of all that buttery goodness.

We have tried a couple of times to recreate this dish, one of Amy's Top Ten Appetizers of All Time. We have never quite gotten it right. Nor did we this time, when we busted out a pound (yes, a pound) of frozen (yes, frozen) crab fingers that we had shipped from the Gulf with some crawfish last April. It wasn't the fact that they had been frozen, because, after all, we're in CT and crabs aren't all that easy to find here. We have the basic flavor profile but the consistency just isn't there. It just isn't saucy enough. Not enough butter? Not enough wine? Overloaded on the breadcrumbs? We're open to suggestions. And by the way, Mandina's, Amy really misses you. Anyway,here's what we did:

1 pound crab fingers
1 stick plus 3 pats butter
3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup Pinot Grigio or other white wine, divided
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Melt the stick of butter in a large saucepan. Using a garlic press, press the garlic cloves (or finely mince them) and add to the melted butter; saute over medium heat until garlic is fragrant. Add the crab fingers and cook, gently folding them in with the butter to coat, for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and continue to cook, 2-3 more minutes. Fold in the breadcrumbs and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn the mixture into an oven-proof baking dish. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup white wine and top with pats of butter. Broil under high heat for several minutes until top is browned. Serve with plenty of napkins!


Kate said...

So, is Cajun Chef Ryan one of your friends? He's a great one to ask about this. BTW - it sounds spectacular. I absolutely love New Orleans barbecue shrimp. Pasquale Manale's. Butter, tabasco, worcestershire, bib, napkins and LOTS of shrimp. YUMMM. Kate @ kateiscooking

Jason's BBQ Adventures said...

Marvelous recipe. Simple, but flavorful.

The Duo Dishes said...

A pure, clean way to enjoy crab. More garlic!

Unknown said...

Don't know if you're still working on this recipe, but I always order this dish at Mandina's and have tried to mimic it at home, as well. In fact, I just got a pound of claws today and am going to to do it again. My attempts taste very good, but I also cannot quite get the same flavor. I even asked them what kind of wine they use, but they wouldn't tell me. I've been using sherry instead of white wine. The result is better to me, but I love sherry in crabmeat dishes.

I've tried plain bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, Leidenheimer bread crumbs, with and without fresh chopped parsley (I don't think they use any herbs, though). I add chopped green onions sometimes because I love them.

If you get close, please let me know!

Unknown said...

I agree with Gris Gris. I think sherry is what they use or something really old fashioned like Sauturne. It’s made from muscadine grapes that we have a lot of in the south. I get plenty of fresh crab so I will give it a shot. I lived in NO twice. I’m currently close to Charleston but we don’t have the great neighborhood restaurants like NP. Loved Mandinas and still obsess about crab cakes.