Turkey too hum-drum? It's time to start a new tradition with a sensational holiday recipe from Sfogila chef restaurateur Ron Suhanosky.
Nonna's Holiday Crab and Lobster Sauce Spaghetti is a childhood favorite of the New York chef and co-owner with wife, Colleen, of two acclaimed Italian bistros - one in NYC, the other in Nantucket. We're sure it will become a much anticipated favorite in your family as well.
Suhanosky idled many a childhood afternoon in the kitchen with his grandmother and great-grandmother, watching and learning and inhaling the happiness their cooking brought to the family.
"I always saw her in the kitchen. I could see how happy she was and I wanted to be that happy," he says. "Food was the element for bringing people together."
The Suhanoskys, whose Italian heritage is central to their appetite for slow food prepared from whole, fresh and local ingredients, both grew up in families where lavish family meals were customary on holidays.
Suhanosky's background is Polish, Hungarian and Italian while his wife's is Sicilian and French.
He dreams of pasta, mixing textures and flavors - both sweet and savory - in the manner of skilled chefs of the Italian Renaissance. His province in the kitchen is all things savory while hers is all things deliciously, decadently sweet.
"I started experimenting with old traditions, dried fruits, savory with sweet," Suhanosky says. "I'm usually hungry when I start working on a menu."
Pasta is the quintessential italian comfort food. It melds cultural tradition and simple ingredients to produce memorable moments at the table. Suhanosky's nonna's classic seafood sauce is a holiday tradition that can be yours for the making.
adapted from the Suhanosky's recently published cookbook PASTA sfoglia from Wiley
Nonna's Holiday Crab and Lobster Sauce
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
6 live blue Maryland crabs, cleaned (see Note)
Two 1-pound 12-ounce cans peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, passed through a food mill
8 cups water
3 lobster tails
1/4 cup finely chopped preserved lemons (Pasta sfoglia provides a recipe, but you may purchase these ready made)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound good quality spaghetti
Optional garnish: 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil or dill
1. Add the grape seed oil, garlic and crabs to a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the crabs turn red, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for three more minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes and 4 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, about two hours. Add the lobster tails and 2 cups of the water and cook for 30 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.
2. Turn on the heat under the sauce to medium-high. Add the remaining two cups of water and stir to combine. Cook for 10 minutes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
3. Remove the crab and lobster to a serving platter. Stir the lemons, salt and pepper into the sauce.
4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Two minutes before the pasta cooking time is complete, use a wire mesh skimmer or tongs to remove the spaghetti from the pot and place them directly into the sauce. Stir to combine.
5. Serve immediately with the platter of crabs and lobster tails on the side. Sprinkle finely chopped herbs of your choice over everything, if desired.
NOTE: Crabs are bottom feeders so they need to be thoroughly cleaned before they're cooked. Soak them in generously salted water for 24 hours. When you remove them from the water, they are no longer alive. Use a stiff brush to clean between and under the legs.