After our habitual two consecutive Thanksgivings, we went into full turkey denial mode. Turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce may be de rigueur across the nation this weekend, but those of us on the left coast have something much more special to celebrate: Dungeness crab season has been open for just a couple weeks now.
The lobster roll may be the iconic summer sandwich of the northeast, but I see no reason why not to take that same treatment and turn it into a hearty harbinger of the winter months — particularly when the weekend after Thanksgiving brings sunny days in the 70s. And if you have a husband who makes light, fluffy rolls with the obligatory split-top and crumb sides, so much the better.
First, go to the market and purchase a half pound of exquisitely expensive fresh crab meat. (Sure, you could save a few bucks by buying and cleaning whole crab, or even start with a live one if you want to go whole hog, but I really wanted to get straight to the sandwich making part.) Toss it in a bowl with half an onion and half a fennel bulb, very finely minced, plus two or three tabespoons of mayonnaise, a spoonful of Dijon mustard, a couple good pinches of salt, a crack of pepper and several dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Mix together, folding gently so as not to shred any sizable hunks of crab. Let rest in the fridge for an hour or so.
Take your lovingly made buns, and slice them at the seams with a serrated knife, leaving neat, flat sides. Then, slice down the center almost — but not quite — all the way through. Heat a griddle over a medium flame, add a tablespoon of butter, and heat the buns on their sides until they turn a gorgeous golden-brown. Fill the buns generously with your succulent, fresh crab meat. Eat with great abandon in the company of a dear friend over a glass or three of pinot gris.