Recipe and Wine Pairing

Whole Crab Tagliatelle
By Chef David Varley
Pair with W.T. Vintners Grüner Veltliner

The succulent meat of the Dungeness crab is rich yet delicate, supple and sweet. The juice from the crab is crucial to the sauces savory quality. Ask your fish vendor to steam the Dungeness crab and crack it for you, so all you have to do is pick the meat and reserve the juices at home.

Serves: 2


  • 1 large Dungeness crab, meat picked, shells and juices reserved
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small leek, sliced
  • 1 small head of fennel
  • 1 small stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 Cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 Large Meyer Lemon, zest and juice reserved
  • 2 TBS poppy seeds
  • 4 oz. heavy cream
  • 4 oz. sweet butter
  • 8 oz. white wine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 16 oz. fresh tagliatelle, can be substituted with 8 oz. dried pasta of choice


Pick and remove the crab meat and reserve the juices. Set aside.

Take the head of fennel and remove the most tender, green fronds and reserve for garnish. Using a Japanese mandolin, shave the tender white tops of the fennel and soak in ice water to crisp. Slice the fennel’s tougher bottom into thin slices and reserve.

In a small sauce pot over low heat, combine sliced fennel bottom, carrot, leek, celery and 1 oz. of butter. Season with salt and pepper and sweat until wilted and sweet, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Add the crab shells, reserved crab juices and white wine; simmer until wine is reduced by half.

Add cream to the sauce pot and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

In a large pot of salted boiling water cook fresh tagliatelle until it floats and becomes al dente, about 2 minutes or so. If using dried follow instructions on the package as cooking times may vary. When cooked drain well and put back into cooking pot.

Strain the sauce into a blender, pressing strainer to remove all of the liquid. Add the remaining butter and lemon juice and blend on high until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dress pasta with sauce and cook together over low to allow starches in pasta to combine with sauce and perfectly coat the noodles. Turn the stove off and add reserved crabmeat, lemon zest and poppy seeds. Stir very gently and minimally to combine and warm crab through. Taste for seasoning and distribute amongst warm serving bowls.

Toss shaved fennel and fennel fronds with a little extra virgin olive oil and garnish the pasta. Serve immediately with W.T. Vintners Grüner Veltliner. Enjoy!