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Cooking with Rebecca Bent

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Josey's Garlic Crabs

Garlic Crabs are perfect prepared with already steamed crabs. For a tangy, sharp flavor, use raw garlic, however if you like it mild use roasted garlic instead. This is a block party favorite: hot or cold, the crabs and juices maintain their wonderful flavor. At my grandmother Josey's shore shack, we even used cleaned soft-shell crabs. Yes, it's true they also work. In fact, what's nice is you can eat the entire crab vs picking through the shell. Also, serve with plenty of napkins and bibs...oh and a frosty beer.

Josey's Garlic Crabs
makes 6 servings

16 steamed blue crabs (or to make your life a heck of a lot easier, use soup crabs as the top shells are already removed)
½ cup olive oil
1 big garlic head, cloves removed from their skins
1 head cabbage, thinly sliced into ¼-inch slivers
1 cup dry white wine or water (please use the wine!)
2 heaping tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (or whatever Seasoning turns you on)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ pound unsalted butter
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 loaf fresh bread

If you are using crabs with the shells on, prepare the crabs for garlic crabs. Place your hand over the backfin leg and pull away the top shell and discard it. Remove and discard the six gills, which look like spongy fingers, and then remove their entrails, using your fingers or a knife. Once clean, tear off the crab’s mouth and any sharp shells that might be protruding.

Now regardless of what crab you are using, finally, break the crab in half or leave it whole (you decide). Repeat with the remaining crabs. When all the crabs are cleaned, place the crabs in the pot along with the cabbage, white wine, Old Bay seasoning, salt, butter, and parsley.

Cover the stockpot and place it on a burner. Raise the heat to medium and cook the crabs until the cabbage and garlic is tender or, about 15 minutes.

Occasionally check the level of liquid, which should increase as the crabs release their juices (but if this does not happen, just make sure there is enough water to continue to cook the crabs). Stir the pot well halfway through so all the crabs get a chance to cook directly in the liquid. Serve immediately in a large bowl with fresh bread to sop up the juices.

Note: I learned how to crab from my dad who learned how to crab from his and so on down the line. I'd sure love to hear your family crabbing stories AND if you have your own family recipe for Garlic Crabs...please post it!


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Thursday, March 18, 2010

When Crab Caking: do you prefer Old Fashion or Nouveau?

When it comes to a classic dish like Crab Cakes, where do you stand? Do you prefer Old Fashion or Nouveau? I am on a mission to gather data and would love your input!

First, let's confirm our definitions.

For me, an old fashion crab cake is one that contains Old Bay (or J.O.), egg, crushed oyster crackers, mayo, parsley, and perhaps a dash of onion powder, or even a drop of Worcestershire sauce. Served with a side of tartar sauce, you can find this in crab shanties and houses in and around the Chesapeake Bay. It's not fancy and even served on the go tucked in between two slices of bread.

Now contrast that to what I would consider a Nouveau crab cake, which is a standard appetizer in most fancy restaurants. This crab cake generally has a long list of ingredients, items like lemon zest, infused mayo, capers, panko bread crumbs, shallots, diced celery, truffle oil to name a few and has a sophisticated flavor. It's typically served on a plate with an upscale chef-inspired sauce.

Second, let's vote.

I vote for old fashion crab cakes. It brings back fond memories of living summers on the Bay as a kid. I can picture my grandmother Edna in the kitchen whipping up a batch with very little fan fare while shouting her wisdom, "don't mess with it too much". And though I do believe every great classic dish deserves to be reinvented from time to time, crab cakes are just something I prefer tried and true.

Third, now it is your turn.

How do you vote? And please include a story or two about why.


Blogger cjajsmommy said...

I prefer the old-fashioned way. Comfort food, plain and simple.

March 20, 2010 at 12:56 PM  

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mussels in Wine and Broth: a 2 minute tasty appetizer

Mussels in Wine and Broth take about 2 minutes to cook once the water starts boiling. It's one of the fastest and tastiest appetizers around. I recommend serving this with your favorite crusty bread along with a pile of napkins. Not that it's all that messy but you really want to sop up all the liquid so you do need to get your hands into the bowl.

Mussels in Wine and Broth
Makes 1 generous serving

30 Mussels, scrubbed (approximately 1 pound)
1 cup broth
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon roasted garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large baguette

Other things to include in the broth:
2 medium sauteed shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

Scrub the mussels and place them in a large bowl. Make sure to remove the beards from mussels and to discard all broken shells or mussels that won’t close. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the mussels. Let the mussels sit for 20 minutes to purge any sand. Remove the mussels from the water and rinse thoroughly.

In a medium stockpot add in the mussels, broth, wine, garlic, and butter and set it over high heat with the lid on. When the liquid comes to a boil cook until the shells open, or about 2 minutes. Serve immediately in 2 large bowls with the juices poured over. Offer slices of soft bread for dipping.

Watch a short video on how to prepare Mussels in Wine and Broth:


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