One of my favorite things about this time of year, and I never thought I would hear myself say this, is football season. It’s not for the reason you would think though. It’s mainly because I LOVE testing my recipes out on all of Albert’s friends :). Albert regularly has all the guys over on Sundays, the grill is always lit, wings are on, and we are constantly cooking. I love it. This is also the only time of the year that I can get him to go grocery shopping WITH me – and he is enthusiastic about it! The only downside is, it’s still summer in Houston, as I fear it will be for at least another month or two, so besides the wings and typical foobtall Sunday goodies, I’m indulging in light recipes like this crab and bruschetta toast. And it’s ohhhh so good!
I had a version of this recipe a couple weeks ago at one of my favorite restaurants in Houston, Coltivare, and it was out of this world. It was so good, that literally the following morning I woke up, went to the store, and bought all the ingredients to re-create the dish for my football test subjects. These types of days are my favorite – when I wake up so inspired by a dish that I’ve eaten, that I just have to replicate it right away.
There were a few aspects of the dish tough that I knew would be hard to replicate. The shrimp was so tender and juicy, and often times mine seem to come out…. not rubbery, but not quite that tender. So after some research, I found a brining recipe that helps make your shrimp come out perfectly sweet, juicy, and pump. This was awesome, because I had never even thought of brining my shrimp before cooking them. This, combined with the fact that we grilled the buttered sourdough loaf before topping it, made the PERFECT bruschetta. Seriously, it was amazing.
This bruschetta would make the perfect appetizer, side dish, or you could even drop the bread and just serve it as an awesome crab and shrimp salad to bring to a potluck.
Crab and Shrimp Bruschetta with Clam Juice Aioli
1 loaf of sourdough bread, or other rustic bread
3 Tbsp. butter
For the aioli:
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 - 2 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 3/4 cup canola oil (the more oil you add, the thicker it gets. add less oil if you want thinner aioli)
3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 Tbsp. clam juice (optional)
For the shrimp and crab salad:
1 lb. shrimp, head and tail on (I personally love Kauai shrimp for it's sweetness)
1 small container of lump crab meat
1 stalk of celery, very thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
For brining the shrimp:
2 quarts water
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
Begin by brining your shrimp. Combine water, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and stir. Leaving the head and tails of the shrimp intact, place them in the large bowl full of brining liquid and let them sit for 30 minutes untouched at room temperature.
While the shrimp is brining, make your aioli sauce. Place the eggs, pepper, salt, lemon juice, clam juice (optional), and garlic in a cuisinart and blend. With motor running, slowly add in the oil in a thin stream. Process until it reaches your desired consistency, which shouldn't be long after you finish adding in the oil. Remove the aioli and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
After the shrimp are done brining, drain them. Bring a large pot of water, a lemon, and a good amount of pepper to a boil. Place the shrimp in the pot and cook for about 2 minutes, then remove and place into an ice bath. Do not overcook the shrimp - 2-3 minutes for medium size shrimp is all you need! Peel and devein the shrimp, and chop into small pieces.
Combine the shrimp, crab meat, and celery in a large bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add in a few tbsp. of the aioli, and stir well.
Slice your sourdough bread into 1/2 inch pieces, and butter each side. Grill the bread or toast it in the oven. Top the bread with a touch more aioli and the shrimp and crab mixture. Garnish with lemon zest, capers, parsley, and whatever else you like. Enjoy!