Pasta with Crab, Tomato, and Chilies

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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Pasta with Crab, Tomato, and Chilies

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 4
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:45 minutes
Special equipment:Blender, food processor
This recipe appears in: The Food Lab Lite: Pasta with Crab, Tomato, and Chilies

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and roughly broken up by hand
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small red hot chili, finely sliced
  • 2 slices rustic bread or 1 English muffin, roughly torn
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 pound fresh spaghetti, fettucini, or tagliatelle (dry pasta can also be used)
  • 1 pound lump or jumbo lump fresh crab meat

Procedures

  1. 1

    Heat butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted and foaming subsides. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Add vodka and simmer for 4 minutes longer.

  2. 2

    Transfer mixture to jar of blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer 2 cups to a large saucepan. Reserve remaining sauce for another use.

  3. 3

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Combine bread and remaining olive oil the the work bowl of a food processor. Process until fine crumbs are formed. Transfer to a medium skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and tossing constantly until golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl. Season bread crumbs to taste with salt and pepper and add a pinch of parsley and chives. Toss to combine. Set aside.

  4. 4

    Add crab and sliced chilies to saucepan with sauce and stir to combine. Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water just until it is barely cooked through, about 2 minutes (if using dry pasta, cook according to package directions). Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Transfer pasta to saucepan with sauce stir in remaining herbs. Heat over high heat until sauce is simmering and pasta is completely coated, adding reserved pasta water as necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency. Serve immediately, topping with bread crumbs.

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