August 20, 2012

Get Crackin'!

I was lucky enough to spend my Sunday afternoon in one of my favorite ways... eating steamed blue crabs loaded with old bay with my family on the porch. These particularly delicious crabs came from Gadeleto's in West Chester, PA... a family favorite. I've been picking and eating crabs since I was in first grade so I consider myself a bit of an expert. For those of you without a lifetime of crab eating experience, here's my step by step guide so you can join in the delicious fun.

Step one - pick a crab that feels heavy for it's size. This means it will be packed full of that sweet, sweet meat and make your meticulous picking efforts worth the time.

Step two - grab your crab by it's boy bits, pry it up and use this as a handle to rip off the crab's back (brutal, I know). PS... boy crabs are for steaming and girl crabs make the most delicious soup.

Step three - now rip off each of the small legs and pull them apart joint by joint. 

There is a small amount of delicious meat in each segment of the leg and the taste is too good to skip. 

You can use a knife to pry out the meat, or if you are like me, you can scrape it out using your teeth... the shell on the small legs is pretty soft and flexible. Remember that some of the best things in the world come in small packages... these little bits of leg meat are worth the work.

Step four -  Now move on to those YUMMY claws. Tear them away from the body and crack them open (my family has always used nut crackers to eat crabs. I know lots of people like the mallets but I find the crackers make things a little more precise).

Use the crackers to crush open each section of the claw including the knuckle. I like to eat the section closest to the body first, then the knuckle, then finish by grabbing each pincher and splitting them open. You can usually pull out the bit of meat that goes all the way down into the claw this way.

Step five - Time to take it to the body. I always split the body in half, making sure to remove the lungs (the sort of greyish pieces on the outside) and the intestines (the whitish coiled pieces in the center). 

Then split the halves in half and start removing the succulent white meat from the chambers of the body. This is "lump" crab meat like you'll find in the best crab cakes. This is super sweet and tasty, which is why I like to leave it for last. 

Now grab another crab and start all over again.
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