Veracruz-style Crab Stew

Veracruz-style Crab Stew

1 pound ripe but firm tomatoes (or use canned, drained whole tomatoes)
1 medium-size onion, quartered
2 large garlic cloves
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained, rinsed and seeded
1/2 jalapeño, seeded
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 black peppercorns
2 corn tortillas, fried in olive oil until crispy brown, then crumbled
2 1/2 tablespoons lard (or vegetable oil)
3 cooked Dungeness crabs (about 4 1/2 pounds), split in two
1 pound fresh jumbo shrimp with heads on OR 1/2 pound previously frozen headless shrimp, shelled
1 quart water
Leaves from 1 leafy epazote, chopped (or use sage leaves)
Salt to taste
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 450° F. Mix tomatoes, onion, garlic, chipotles, jalapeño, cinnamon and peppercorns in a roasting pan and roast until soft, adding a few tablespoons of water if it seems to be drying out, about 1 1/2 hours. Add crumbled fried tortillas and continue to roast until sauce is thicker.

Meanwhile, in a casserole, melt lard over medium heat, then add sauce from roasting pan. Pour a little water into roasting pan to deglaze it, scraping any browned bits from the bottom, then add to casserole. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crab and shrimp and cook for 5 minutes, turning frequently. Add water and epazote and season with salt. Cover, increase heat to high, and remove from heat when it reaches a boil. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 6.

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