Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Steamed Chesapeake Blue Crabs -- Happy Fourth!

Hugh Vinson’s Steamed Crabs

1     bushel of No. 1 or Jumbo male (Jimmy), Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, still kicking
2     cans beer * all alcohol will steam away
1     cup white vinegar
1     quart of water
1     cup Old Bay Seasoning

Put water beer and vinegar in the bottom of the pot. A double boiler crab steamer is good, but any pot larger than a bushel may be used if you place an inverted bowl or two in the bottom to keep the crabs out of the water.

Using tongs, or leather gloves, or both, place live crabs in the large kettle. Careful, they WILL bite. Be prepared to chase down any that climb out of the basket and run. Discard any that don’t fight back. Cooking crabs after they are dead can result in food poisoning.

Cover the pot and put on medium high heat. Some folks use clip clothes pins to seal the top on, as the crabs will sometimes climb out if the top isn’t tight.

Start timing when pot begins to boil and steam escapes around the lid. Cook 30 more minutes.  Remove from fire, remove top and let sit for a bit. Crabs should be bright red in color. If they still have a greenish tinge, cook an additional 15 minutes. Using tongs, place hot crabs in a cardboard box or other container. Spread newspapers on a picnic table, and place container on top, and sprinkle hot crabs liberally with Old Bay or the crab seasoning of your choice. Replenish from pot as needed.

Handy side items are: Old newspapers to spread on picnic table. Good sharp crab knives, or paring knives; Small bowls of vinegar for dipping; Saltine Crackers; Mallets for cracking claws; and a roll of paper towels – regular paper napkins just don’t work at a crab feast.

Best served with iced tea, lemonade, or cold beer. Serves up to a dozen.

Contributed by Hugh Vinson, author of A Grandfather's Gift

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