SF Chefs 2010: SPQR’s Matt Accarrino Demofeatured

Last Saturday was a great for Williams Sonoma's demo kitchen where SF Chefs held their series of free cooking demos. The first of the day was held by SPQR's head chef Matt Accarrino who gave detailed instruction on how to cook his fresh squid ink Pasta with dungeness Crab, sweet Peppers and basil. He started out his demo explaining how to prepare the crab stock. He added celery, onion and live Dungeness crab to water and brought it to a boil. Building a delicious flavor for the stock is critical Accarrino explains. Once the crabs were boiled, he took them out and started cracking open the shells to get the tasty meat out. After removing the meat he placed the shells back into the stock for extra flavor from all the access meat guts that remained. Accarrino then added his secret ingredient to the stock, tomato paste, sharing that gives it the richness in flavor and color everyone loves at his restaurant.
View from the top of Accarino's pasta sauce

Top view of Accarino's delicious fresh Dungeness crab pasta sauce

Accarrino gave helpful information during the demo on how to properly remove the meat from the crabs. He warned that beating with a mallet is harder than it needs to be, and suggests using sewing scissors because are sharp and easy to work with. Once you have your weapon of choice in hand, cut a slit down the back of the crab shell and remove the meat. Save all the shells and crab fat and add to the stock along with some basil stems. (Nice tip!) For the pasta dough, Accarrino started out by mixing the squid ink with the eggs, then added the flour. After the dough is made he suggests letting it sit for 30 minutes so that it stretches easier when you run it through the pasta roller. While making the pasta he also got his pasta water to boil. After the pasta is rolled out the way that you want it, add it to the pasta water. When cooking the pasta, remember to salt the water, and take it out when it's 75% of the way cooked. The pasta will finish off when you add the sauce. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. He warned to not much salt to the sauce until everything is finally put together because the salt in the crab goes a long way.
Accarrino creating his Dungeness crab, sweet peppers and basil pasta sauce

Accarrino creating his Dungeness crab, sweet peppers and basil pasta sauce

At the end everyone got to try some of this sinfully delicious pasta and I must say it was truly delicioso! At the end of the demo I asked Accarrino where he thought food at SPQR was going. He answered, " it's a continuous process, continuous renewal and he has some great ideas for the next year in his kitchen." Overall, you can tell Accarrino is an all around cool, calm and collected guy and that was apparent during his demo. We look forward to trying your new food Matt. Thanks for the great recipe.
Fresh squid ink pasta with dungeness Crab, sweet Peppers and basil

Ingredients

  • 3 ¼ Cup Flour
  • 4 egg whites, 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp squid ink
  • 1 ½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • ½ cup sweet baby peppers, stemmed, seeded, sliced, pickled in white wine vinegar and sugar then drained
  • ¼ tomato sauce
  • 0-8 ounces crab stock
  • 8oz fresh crab meat (pref Dungeness)
  • ¼ fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 fresh live Dungeness crab
  • 1 white onion sliced
  • 2 celery stalks sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine

Instructions

  1. To make the pasta, place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fited with the dough hook. Beat the eggs and yolk with the squid ink and season with salt. Mix in a mixing bowl for 7-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Let stand for 30 min
  2. Make crab broth while pasta is resting. To do so sweat onion, celery and carrot and a small amount of olive oil in a pan. Add garlic after about 5 min. Add the tomato paste and the crab shells. Cook for several minutes and then add white wine and bring to a boil. Add enough water to just cover the shells. Simmer for about 45 minutes and strain pressing on the solids to extract as much meat liquid as possible. Discard the solids and return the crab broth to a simmer. Season at the end.
  3. After resting, start rolling out the dough and run it through your pasta machine at the thickest setting, adding flour to reduce sticking.
  4. Cut rectangles of the doughin the width of spaghetti and about 10-12 inches long. Dust each rectangle with flour and roll into dough sheets. Cover with towel until ready to cook.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  6. In a large saute pan over medium heat add olive oil and garlic and begin to saute until it softens. Now add the chili and cook for just a second. Don't scorch the garlic or chili. Next add the peppers and cook tossing to soften. Add the tomato sauce and then the crab stock. Turn off heat and set aside.
  7. Drop the pasta into boiling water and give it a swirl with a spoon. Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook while dry pasta will take longer. Season your pasta water.
  8. When the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve. Turn back on the saute pan and add the pasta to toss and coat in the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. At the very end add the basil and toss the pasta one last time.

Notes

Tips on how to cook a live crab: Fill a large pot about 2/3 the way full of water. Traditionally you'll also want to add about 1/4 cup of salt, but it's not necessary. Putting the crabs in head first makes it easier to deal with them. Also if you freeze them before it makes the kill easier and less painful for them. Once their claws are already in the pot and away from your fingers. Large crabs take about 15-20 minutes, while smaller crabs take about 8-10 minutes and you can tell they're done when the shells will now be bright red.

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