Thursday, May 5, 2016

It's that time of year.......
Maryland Watermen are smiling
Soft Shell Crabs are Here!

Typical Soft Shell Serving
Soft shell crabs usually start showing up in the Chesapeake Bay during the first full moon in May. This year, the crabs were impatient and the season has begun a couple of weeks early.

In this post we'll discuss a little of the history of this seasonal treasure, how to properly clean a soft shell crab and a delicious recipe for Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Tabasco Mash Remoulade.

As I mentioned earlier, the season usually begin with the first full moon in May. That's when the water temperature is hot enough for the crabs to "sluff" or shed their outer shell. For commercial purposes, this has to  be done in a controlled environment. Crabs with soft shells are very vulnerable to prey. 

Several weeks prior to this, watermen set their traps for crabs, return to the dock and place the crabs in special holding tanks. As the crabs shed their shells, they are move to a separate tank where they are held before being shipped to market. It's a painstaking process that requires a lot of babysitting.

Or you can do it like I did when I was a kid. Grab your crab net, an old pair of tennis shoes and walk the shallow grass flats in the Chesapeake hoping to stir one up! I must say, I was pretty successful. Enjoy the crabs!

Chef Joe

First Step in Cleaning
Cleaning the crabs are pretty easy. First, using a sharp knife, remove the face of the crab. Remember to fold the claws and legs under the crab so they don't get accidentally cut off.

Second Step
Next, turn the crab over and remove the apron. By the way, a narrow apron indicates a male crab and a wide apron indicates a female. 

 Last Step
Next, lift each tip of the tip shell and remove the lungs. The lungs are nicknamed "devil's fingers". It's a wives tale that if you eat them you will have stomach trouble. None the less, don't take a chance, remove them!

Now your crabs are ready for your favorite cooking method. My two favorite are sautéed and fried. 

Crispy Soft Shell Crab
Serves 4

Seasoned Flour:
2 cups  All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons  Old Bay Seafood Seasoning

4 each Soft Shell Crabs, cleaned 
as needed Seasoned Flour
3  Eggs, beaten with 1 Tbl. of milk
Vegetable Oil
4 slices  Vine Ripe Tomato, 3/8" thick
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
4 cups  Baby Greens
4 Tbl. Remoulade Sauce

In a heavy gauge skillet with tall sides, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. The oil should be roughly 1" deep. Check temperature with a thermometer. Ideally, we're looking for 350 degrees.  Adjust the heat as necessary. Dredge the crabs in seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour.  Dip the crabs in beaten eggs and allow excess to drain off. Return the crabs to the seasoned flour and coat completely.

Fry the crabs top shell down until golden and crisp, approximately 2-3 minutes. Carefully turn the crabs and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.  Remove them to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease.

Rub tomato slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on a charcoal grill for 1 minute on each side
In a small mixing bowl, lightly toss the greens with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

To plate:
Place the tomato slice in the center of the plate and a small mound of dressed greens above it. Place a dollop of Remoulade sauce to the right of the tomato and drag with the back of a spoon to make a decorative swoosh. Place the crab on top of the tomato and serve immediately.  

For quick links to this blog, "LIKE" us on Facebook Landry's Seafood!/LandrysSeafood and on
our Muer Facebook pages at:

Big Fish Dearborn, MI -
Big Fish Princeton, NJ -
Charley's Crab Grand Rapids, MI -
Gandy Dancer Ann Arbor, MI-
Grand Concourse, PA -
Gandy Saloon, Pittsburg, PA
Meriwether's, Southfield, MI  -
River Crab, St Clair, MI -

Friday, April 22, 2016

King of Comfort Foods....... 
Fried Chicken
There's a resurgence in the restaurant scene and that is comfort foods. The kinds of foods that make you feel good and remind you of sitting at Mom's kitchen table. Whether it be Meatloaf, Pot Pie or Chicken Fried Steak, all these dishes give us a certain amount of warmth and happiness. 

Arguably for me, the king of comfort foods is fried chicken. You will
Cocoa Cola Fried Chicken
see more and more different fried chicken dishes on restaurant menus this year.  For example, KFC just released their 
Memphis Fried Chicken with spicy pepper glaze.  On other menus I have seen such samples as Sweet Tea Fried Chicken with honey and lemon. My favorite comes from a micro regional cuisine in Alabama. 

The dish..... Cocoa Cola Fried Chicken. Chicken that is marinated in a cocoa cola brine, then dredged in spices and fried using a flavorful batter and seasoned flour. The end result is a piece of chicken that is unique in flavor, very juicy and suitable as a stand alone entree, salad or sandwich.  Here's my rendition of Cocoa Cola Fried Chicken.  Whip up some potato salad and Cole slaw and let the comfort begin! Oh, and don't forget the pickles. I hope you enjoy it.

Chef Joe

Cocoa Cola Fried Chicken

Cocoa Cola Brined Chicken:
8 each Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast,
     lightly pounded to 1/4" thickness
5 cups Cocoa Cola
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
8 sprigs Fresh Thyme
5 cloves garlic, mashed with the side of a chef's knife
4 teaspoons Hot Sauce, I recommend Cajun Chef
1 teaspoon  Cayenne Pepper

Directions : Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well until the salt has dissolved. Reserve

Fried Chicken Spice: 
3 teaspoons Kosher Salt 
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika 
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper 
1 1/2 teaspoons Rubbed Sage 
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary
 1 teaspoon Onion Powder 
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Fried Chicken Batter:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
3 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Black Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 each Egg
2 1/2 cups Water

Directions: in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices; blend well. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, egg and water.  Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while mixing with a wire whip. Continue mixing until a smooth batter is achieved. Reserve

Seasoned Flour:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Fried Chicken Spice

Directions: combine flour and spice in a mixing bowl and blend well.  Reserve

To Prepare:
1) Place the chicken breast in the brine and cover with plastic  wrap.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow the chicken  to marinate for 8 hours.

2)  Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with a clean a
       paper towel.

3)  Lay the chicken on a parchment lined sheet tray. Season both
      sides of the chicken liberally with the chicken spice. Cover with 
      plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours

4)  In a large cast iron skillet, pour vegetable oil 1/3 of the way up
     the side of the skillet. Place over medium high heat and heat
      oil to 350 degrees.

5)  Working in batches, dredge the chicken breast in seasoned flour.
       Dip in the chicken batter and allow excess to drain off. Return to 
       the seasoned flour and coat completely. Gently place into the
       heated oil and cook for 6 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove
       the chicken to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.

Cocoa Cola Fried Chicken Salad

Cocoa Cola Chicken Sandwich

For quick links to this blog, “LIKE” us on Facebook Landry’s Seafood!/LandrysSeafood and on our Muer Facebook pages at:

Big Fish Dearborn, MI  -
Big Fish Princeton, NJ   -
Charley's Crab Grand Rapids, MI -
Gandy Dancer Ann Arbor, MI -
Grand Concourse, Pittsburgh, PA -
Gandy Saloon, Pittsburgh, PA -
Meriwether's, Southfield, MI -
River Crab, St Clair, MI -

Monday, January 18, 2016


In studying food trends for 2016, I came across an interesting notion that I feel will be an exciting change to the dining scene.

The trend is called veg-centric. The principle behind the movement is that vegetables will play a more prominent role on restaurant menus. I'm not talking about vegetarian cuisine, it's more about vegetables being presented in interesting ways. No longer will vegetables be an afterthought or simply a side dish to an entree. They will become the star of the plate with an equal role to the proteins with which they are served.

In preparation for our spring menu, we developed a few dishes that illustrate this trend.  
Crab Remoulade and garnishes
Hawaiian Poke

This is Avocado Marble.  It's a mixture of ripe Hass avocados, green onions, cilantro, fresh lime juice, extra virgin Olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. The mixture is vacuum sealed, partially frozen, the neatly cut and plated. It can be garnished with a variety of ingredients. On the left, the marble is topped with Crab Remoulade and garnishes with gaufrette potatoes. On the right, the marble is plated with Hawaiian Poke. Raw, sushi grade tuna marinated in soy, sesame oil, spices and chiles. It's garnished with wonton crisps.

Here's a quick tutorial on how to make avocado marble. Give it a try and have fun with the garnishes. Hope you enjoy it!

Chef Joe

P.S. - Look for these dishes at one of our restaurants in the near future.

Avocado Marble

4 each Ripe Avocado, peeled, seed removed, diced 1/4"
1 cup Green Onion, sliced 1/4"
1 cup Fresh Cilantro, rough chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Lime Juice
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste

1)  Combine all ingredients in a stainless mixing bowl and fold with a spatula until evenly combined.

 2) Place the mixture in a heavy gauge 11" x 7" plastic bag. 

3) Wipe the opening of the bag with a clean towel.

4) Vacuum seal the bag following the manufactures instructions.

5) Using a flat sheet tray, press down on the marble to create a smooth even surface. Place in the freezer for about and hour.

6) Using a sharp knife, remove the edges of the bag, peel off the top of the bag and cut into desired shape.

For quick links to this blog, “LIKE” us on Facebook Landry’s Seafood!/LandrysSeafood and on our Muer Facebook pages at:

Big Fish Dearborn, MI  -
Big Fish Princeton, NJ   -
Charley's Crab Grand Rapids, MI -
Gandy Dancer Ann Arbor, MI -
Grand Concourse, Pittsburgh, PA -
Gandy Saloon, Pittsburgh, PA -
Meriwether's, Southfield, MI -
River Crab, St Clair, MI -