Stained-glass Open Crab Lasagne

Darina Coffey's signature dish from Heat 3 of MasterChef 2014


  • 100 g fresh picked white crab meat
  • 100 g fresh picked brown crab meat
  • 2 fresh crab claws
  • 60ml cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 yolk
  • pasta:
  • 100 g oo tipo flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2-3 strands saffron
  • 25 ml sambuca
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 0.50 tsp lemon zest
  • 0.50 a pink grapefruit – flesh and juice
  • 1 tsp hazelnuts
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 1 tblsp hazelnut oil
  • 25 g duck breast skin on
  • 2 tblsp fennel frongs
  • 1 tblsp fennel, diced
  • knob of butter


  1. Pasta:
  2. Place flour, salt and saffron in food processor – blitz to combine, then add egg and blitz for approximately 90 seconds until it forms a ball of dough.
  3. Remove from processor onto a chopping board and knead vigorously until smooth and elastic, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Place in fridge to chill wrapped in cling film for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Crab custard:
  6. Place 75g of brown crab meat, cream and egg, Sambuca and 1 tsp fennel seeds in a jug and blitz until smooth with hand blender for 1 minute then pass through a fine sieve.
  7. Place the mix in a Pyrex dish over a saucepan of rapidly boiling water and cook stirring constantly until it coats the back of the wooden spoon – 10 minutes. Tip – keep a basin of cold water beside the stove to plunge the dish into if you suspect the egg is scrambling and whisk vigorously until smooth before returning to heat.
  8. Set aside for now
  9. Pasta shaping-
  10. Roll out dough into a thin square and cut in half.
  11. Place the square into the pasta machine on the widest setting and thread through, going through the settings down to the narrowest.
  12. Cut the resulting long rectangular strip of thin pasta in half, place a line of fennel frongs on top of one sheet, top with the other and run the sandwiched sheets through the narrowest setting again to create a stain glass effect.
  13. Using a cooks shaping ring cut out 4 discs of dough and chill in the fridge until using.
  14. Grapefruit and vinaigrette:
  15. Segment and dice half the grapefruit into cubes
  16. For the vinaigrette whisk the hazelnut oil and squeezed grapefruit fruit juice together, add chopped mint leaves, season to taste
  17. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan on a medium heat for 30 seconds, chop and add to vinaigrette
  18. Crispy duck crumbs:
  19. Finely dice the duck breast with skin on
  20. Place in a cold pan and set to medium high heat, cook until fat is rendered and morsels are golden brown and crisp – 2-3 minutes
  21. Drain on kitchen paper
  22. Crab Filling:
  23. Melt knob of butter, lemon zest and diced fennel in a pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, add the white crab meat and remaining 25g of brown meat and heat through for 1 minute
  24. Remove from pan, add another knob of butter and warm the claws through – 1-2 minutes on medium heat.
  25. Lasagne disks:
  26. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the disks, cook until al dente – about 1-2 minutes or until the disks float to the surface.
  27. Assemble and plate up:
  28. Place the Pyrex dish with crab custard over the boiling pan of water and reheat for a minute or so
  29. Place the presentation ring on the presentation plate and pour a pool of custard on the plate, top with lasagne disk, cover disk with crab meat mixture, repeat in layers and end with a disk on top. Carefully remove presentation ring. Cover with custard.
  30. Place grapefruit cubes around the plate and drizzle vinaigrette, scatter duck morsels.
  31. Using the blow torch, lightly sear the grapefruit cubes and the top of the lasagne.
  32. Place crab claws beside lasagne.
  33. Scatter with fennel frongs and serve.

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