6 live Blue Crabs
6 tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (freshly ground) or hot pepper flakes (to taste)
3 cups whole canned Italian tomatoes, chopped
12 basil leaves, chopped (reserve 4 leaves to garnish dish)
1 1/2 pounds linguini or pasta of your choice
In this recipe we will use the so called Blue crab. They are in great abundance along the Atlantic coast. The Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina and Louisiana support the largest blue crab fisheries.
It is time consuming to shell and extract the meat from the crabs, particularly the eastern seaboard variety, but their highly distinctive delicate flavor makes it well worth the effort.
Crabs should be kept alive until immediately before cooking to ensure they are fresh. To clean crabs before you cook them, you can kill them by tossing them into boiling water for 30 seconds or by cutting just behind the eyes to remove the head. Next scrape out the gills that are found under the flaps just over the legs. Then, turn the crab over. On the underbelly you will find the “tail” or “apron”, a slightly-lifted triangular flap. Pull this off. Finally, rinse the crab and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or sauce pan add the garlic and cook until the garlic takes on color, add the crabs and cook for another couple of minutes, add the tomatoes and basil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover and boil gently for one hour. Remove the crabs and let cool so you can pick the meat out of them. To do this you can use a paring knife, split each half of the crab through horizontally, exposing chambers of crabmeat. Use the knife to pick out the meat. Take a claw and break it apart at the joint. Break the claw with a mallet and pick out the crabmeat; add the crabmeat to the sauce and discard the shells.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the pasta and cook as directed on the package, drain, put the pasta in a large bowl and add some sauce, mix well, serve on four heated pasta bowls, add a little more sauce to each portion and garnish with basil leaves. Enjoy!