Crabbing is a lazy sport. I don’t mean it’s easy, because gauging just how fast to pull your hand line without spooking the crab, then being swift and accurate with the scoop net takes skill. I mean that I associate crabbing with those dog days of summer when it’s just too hot and you feel too lazy to do anything but anchor the boat in the back bay and mellow out. Given that blue claw crabs rank high on my delicious meter, I personally find the tug of a big pincher just as exciting as the strike of a fish.
Blue claw feasts spark summer memories dating back to when I was a little tyke crabbing off docks with my parents. There are hundreds of ways to prepare them, but if you want to transcend the average beer-steamed or boiled crab, here’s a recipe of my own devising that adds a little richness and fire to your blue claws. I’ve been stuck on this prep method all summer, and it tastes just as good whether you buy or catch your crabs. – Joe Cermele
Fire-Brewed Blue Claws with Beer Butter
1 dozen blue claw crabs
3 bottles Guinness Stout
3 cloves garlic
Red pepper flakes
Pickled jalapenos with brine
Old Bay seasoning
Pour two bottles of stout into a large stock pock. Reserve the third bottle for later. Add in minced or pressed garlic, the juice from one lime and six to ten pickled jalapeno slices, plus a shot of the pickling brine. Stir in chili powder, Old Bay seasoning, and red pepper flakes to taste. Bring to a fast boil on high heat and add in the crabs. Let them cook with the lid on for six to eight minutes. Note that not all crabs will be submerged in liquid. After six to eight minutes, remove lid and shift top crabs to the bottom using tongs. Pour in the third bottle of Guinness and cook with the lid on for another ten minutes. The shells should be bright red when complete.
After cooking, remove the crabs from liquid and arrange them on plates or in a large bowl for serving. For each diner, place a chunk of butter in a small bowl or ramekin. Just before bringing the crabs to the table, ladle some of the hot beer broth left in the pot (which is now infused with crab juice) over the butter in each bowl. Once it melts, you’ve got a superb dipping sauce for the crab meat. I also garnish with the jalapenos from the pot, which are too beer-fully delicious to toss out.