Artichoke Crowns Stuffed with Saffron-Scented Crab
Recipe type: Appetizers
  • 6 large artichokes; trimmed (see note)
  • Topping:
  • 1 Cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 Cup clam juice
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/2 pound fresh lump crabmeat; picked over to remove any cartilage or shell bits
  1. Make the Artichokes: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the artichokes and cook until a thin-bladed knife can be easily inserted into the bottom of the artichoke, 15 to 25 minutes. Drain and place the artichokes upside down on a clean kitchen towel; let cool.
  2. Carefully remove the remaining leaves from the cooled artichokes. Using a melon baller or small, sharp-edged spoon, scrape away the fuzzy chokes. With a sharp knife, trim the outside of the artichoke crowns to a smooth shape. Transfer the crowns to the prepared gratin dish and set aside.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Lightly butter a 9- by 13-inch (3-quart) gratin dish.
  4. Make the Topping: In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and butter; toss until the bread crumbs have absorbed all of the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in the cream, clam juice, and saffron. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the crab; mix gently with a fork so that the crab is coated with sauce but remains in small chunks.
  6. Spoon the crab mixture into the artichoke crowns, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle the topping over the crab. Place the gratin dish on a sturdy baking sheet.
  7. Set under the broiler, about 4 inches from the heat source, and broil until deep, golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
  8. This recipe yields 6 servings.
These artichokes topped with creamy, golden, saffron-scented crabmeat make an elegant special-occasion starter. Choose large artichokes, because you'll be trimming away all of the leaves and choke and using only the meaty base, or "crown." Saffron is the world's most expensive spice because it takes more than 4,300 crocus blossoms to produce enough (handpicked) stigmas to make a single ounce. It's worth the expense, though; it only takes a pinch to add a beautiful golden hue and subtle but distinctive flavor to foods.

Note: To trim artichokes, working with one artichoke at a time, cut off the stalk flush with the base of the artichoke, then remove the outermost leaves to reveal the sides of the pale, cream-colored heart. Cut off the top about an inch above the base. As each artichoke is trimmed, rub the cut surfaces with lemon to prevent discoloring, or drop them into a bowl of cold water with the juice of 1 lemon.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 257 Calories; 16g Fat (53.1% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 309mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 3 Fat.

Serve with a fine dry white wine or Champagne.

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