This week, we’ve got crabs.
THE MEAT: Even in the Midwest we can get our hands on fresh crab. This little (er, big) guy was swimming in the Pacific less than 24 hours before he was hanging out on our grill. If you live on a coast where crabs are plentiful, accessing fresh crab should be easy, but if you don’t, keep on the lookout for times when your fish monger is flying some in fresh or special order it. It’s worth the extra cost to get fresh seafood. Dungeness crab can get pretty big, and ours was big enough to turn into two servings (though we wouldn’t have kicked another off the grill).
THE METHOD: Crab is usually boiled, but we decided to throw it on the grill. When grilled, crab should be cooked directly over a hot fire and (#sorrynotsorry) put on while still alive. It will change color quickly, and then get moved to indirect heat. The shell is the perfect cooking vessel for crab meat—just be careful you don’t put the claws too close to the flames for too long or they’ll get overcooked. If you’re worried that your fire is too hot, it might even be a good idea to wrap the crab in foil once you move it to the indirect side.
THE MEAL: Good crab doesn’t need much. We make a butter sauce that compliments the flavor of crab perfectly. With a little Old Bay to keep it traditional, and a bit of beer to give it some kick, it’s all you need when you’ve got fresh-grilled crab on the table. Of course, potato salad and cornbread won’t hurt either.
Grilled Dungeness Crab
½ cup butter
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 healthy shot (2-ish ounces) beer
1 large Dungeness crab
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the Worcestershire, Old Bay, garlic and beer, and whisk to incorporate. Set aside.
Set up your grill for direct and indirect grilling.
Place the crab, belly side down, directly over the fire. Cook for about 2 minutes. Flip over on to its back and move the crab to the indirect cooking side. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes more.
Allow the crab to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the shell (cut it in half with a sturdy knife first if you wish) and wash away the orange mass of organs on the inside. Serve with butter, a crab mallet and some spicy cornbread.