cracked crab with three sauces

cracked crab with three sauces on

I am currently knee deep in boxes and bubble wrap. On Monday, Beau and I signed a stack of papers that was at least two inches thick, which made this whole house buying business feel awfully real. The keys to our little bungalow will be in our hands tomorrow.

As you can imagine, I haven’t had much time to cook. Beau and I have been subsisting on scrambled eggs with whatever vegetables we have rolling around in the fridge and a couple tablespoons of Boursin thrown in. (On a side note: If you’re going to eat the same meal over and over again, I highly recommend this one. Scrambled eggs with Boursin is pretty sexy and it only takes five minutes to make!)

So, as I was saying, packing and paper-signing and calling movers and selling a ton of crap because our new house is smaller than this one hasn’t left me a ton of time to cook. But tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and I couldn’t imagine leaving you without a recipe for ringing in the new year!

cracked crab with three sauces on

May I propose the Cracked Crab Supper. This is our annual Christmas Eve meal, but it would make an equally fine New Year’s Eve spread. I look forward to cracked crab all year. We cover the table in newspaper, boil up a huge pot of Dungeness and serve a variety of sauces alongside. Everyone gets a crab cracker and a pick. Plates are strictly forbidden. After the meal, we roll the whole glorious mess into the newspaper and trot it out to the compost. Done and done. (Did I mention I love this supper?)

cracked crab with three sauces on

Fresh Dungeness bathed in melted butter feels quite luxurious. There’s also something about having permission to eat with your hands that feels  just a little bit naughty. Throw in a bottle (or ten) of champagne and you have the perfect meal for a New Year’s Eve gathering!

I wish you all a delicious end to 2015. And I look forward to writing you next from a new house and a new year!



Cracked Crab with Three Sauces

  • 6 Dungeness crab, 2-2 ½ lbs each
  • 1 recipe Sauce Verte (see below)
  • 1 recipe Spicy Smoked Paprika Aioli (see below))
  • 1 recipe Drawn Butter (see below)
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • Several pounds of ice

*Notes: For everything you ever wanted to know about cooking and cleaning Dungeness crab, I refer you to my friend Becky’s excellent tutorial. She is a fantastic chef and knows pretty much everything there is to know about sustainable seafood. 

- If you would rather not cook live crab, you might be able to sweet talk your fishmonger into killing and cleaning it for you in the shop. Take it home and cook it immediately as the meat deteriorates quickly. Of course, you can always buy pre-cooked and cleaned crab from the store, but it's never as delicious as freshly-cooked. 

- Some people serve whole crab and have their guests clean them at the table. I find this a little off-putting (read: gross) for those who are not die-hard crab lovers and seafood aficionados. I prefer to clean the crab and remove the innards before serving.

- The crab can be cooked up to 6 hours in advance. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.

cracked crab with three sauces on

Heat a large pot of generously salted water over high heat. If you do not have an extremely large pot, you will need to cook the crab in batches.

While the water is heating, fill a large bowl or pot (or a clean sink) with ice. If you are cooking the crab in batches, be sure to save some of the ice for the rest of the crab.

When the water comes to the boil, place as many crab as will fit in the pot. Be sure they are completely submerged. Bring back to the boil and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer the crab to the ice and cover with cold water. This will stop the cooking. Once completely cold, remove the crab from the ice water. Clean the crabs if you didn’t have your fishmonger do it. Dry thoroughly and store in the refrigerator if not serving immediately. 

If you want to eat your crab cold (like we do), just take it out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes before you plan to serve it to let it warm up a bit. 

If you want to eat it hot, steam the crab for 5-10 minutes just before serving. The time will vary depending on how large your crabs are and how cold they are when they go in the pot. Taste the meat often as you steam the crab to be sure you don’t overcook it.

Serve crab accompanied by sauces and lemon wedges.

Serves 6-8.

cracked crab with three sauces on

Sauce Verte

  • 1 cup parsley, chopped fine

  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, chopped fine

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • ¾ cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped

  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

  • Salt, to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to small bowls and serve alongside the crab. This sauce doesn't hold particularly well, so I recommend making it no more than an hour or two before you intend to serve it. 

Makes about 1 cup.

Spicy Smoked Paprika Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or minced

  • 1 -3 teaspoons lemon juice, depending on whether your mayo already has lemon or vinegar in it

  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

  • Pinch fine grain sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to small bowls and serve alongside the crab. This aioli can be made up to 2 days in advance and will get spicier as it sits. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1 cup.

cracked crab with three sauces on

Drawn Butter

  • 8 oz (2 sticks) high quality salted butter

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, the butter will foam. Skim the foam then pour the butter into a clear heatproof container like a Pyrex measuring cup. Wait for the milk solids to fall to the bottom then carefully pour off the liquid butter, leaving the solids behind. You can use cheesecloth if you want your drawn butter to be extra clear. I usually don’t fuss with the extra step since it wastes some of the butter. Heat the drawn butter in a small saucepan just before serving. Transfer to small serving bowls and serve alongside the crab.

Makes about ¾ cup.