Dungeness Crabs on Fishman's Wharf

Take A Quick Break From Thanksgiving With Dungeness Crab

It’s that time of the year again when chefs on the West Coast start thinking about one thing. That’s why Kendall-Jackson Executive Chef Justin Wangler recently spoke with Diane Peterson at the Sonoma County Press Democrat about a culinary tradition: Dungeness crabs.

Here on the West Coast, we’re willing to put our Dungeness up against anything caught off the shores of Maryland, Florida or even lobster from Maine. And with the season running from mid-November through May, crabs are turning up in restaurants and homes all over Sonoma. Now’s the time to start thinking about ways to prepare the dish.

“I like any food that’s interactive,” Wangler told the Press Democrat. “It’s more communal and fun to eat like that, especially when you’re with family and friends at the holiday.”

Chances are that your Thanksgiving preparation is in full swing, but it might be worth considering Dungeness crab to augment your meal — or, like Chef Justin, as a Wednesday-night-before alternative that pairs well with some Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay.

Chef Justin has even gone so far as to institute his own night before Thanksgiving tradition of serving Dungeness crab and oysters on the half shell to some lucky friends. His preparations vary but the end result is always easy.

It might seem odd for some to cook and serve crab the night before Thanksgiving. After all, the house is probably in some state of disrepair, savory butternut squash dressing and a pear and arugula salad are already in the fridge vying for space with a turkey that’s got ice bags on it. But that doesn’t mean crab shouldn’t be served. Why? Because crab is easy.

From Peterson’s article:

“For busy families, the cracked-crab dinner provides an elegant form of fast food. You can pick up cooked, cleaned and cracked crabs on your way home from work, and within five minutes, everyone is digging into the pile and happily cracking away at the bright red claws and bodies.”

So why not? Give Dungeness crab a try if you haven’t, and let us know how it turned out.

If you’re interested in checking out a few different crab preparation variations, check out our wine and food pairings. You can also see a few of Chef Justin’s recipes in the Press Democrat.