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Beer-Steamed Blue Crabs

My grandmother Edna said, “Never overcook your crabs.”

Steam them for 18 minutes or until they are bright red. You may want to use a proper steaming pot with an inset to get this right.

When I was a kid, hard crabs were steamed immediately after being caught off our pier. They were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner with fresh buttered rye bread. At our last family reunion my Uncle Bob took over the crab steaming duties. He steamed crabs for 2 hours before sitting down himself. Now that's what I call Maryland hospitality!

  • In a steamer pot deep enough to accommodate all the crabs, place the steamer bottom in.
  • Use tongs to place the live crabs in the pot.
  • Try making one layer first (if possible) before piling the crabs on top of one another.
  • Sometimes this is difficult because the crabs may grab one another, but do the best you can.
  • When the pot is filled halfway with crabs, pour in the beer (no sipping! those crabs need all that beer), 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning.
  • Add the rest of the crabs to the pot and add in a little water until it comes up to the level of the steamer tray.
  • Just eyeball it.
  • What you don’t want is to boil your crabs.
  • Sprinkle the crabs with the remaining teaspoon of salt and tablespoon of seafood seasoning.
  • If you like super spicy crabs you can add more seasoning.
  • Cover the pot tightly and place it over medium-high heat.
  • When the water boils, cook the crabs for 20 minutes, or until bright red.
  • Using the tongs, carefully remove the hot crabs from the pot and place them on a strong serving tray.
  • Line your table with several layers of newspaper, put out crab knives and mallets, and start eating.
  • Careful, those crabs are mighty hot!
  • How to Clean a Blue Crab
  • In a deep sink or bucket, clean your crabs by spraying them with cold water.
  • I like to do this outside with a hose.
  • If the crabs were pulled from the mud, they may need a really thorough rinsing.
  • Be careful not to get your fingers too close.
  • Use tongs when necessary to pick them up and move them around.
  • ½ bushel live blue crabs (2 ½ dozen), cleaned
  • 1 8-ounce bottle of beer (no crazy flavors, stick to mainstream brands)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning or other seafood seasoning
  • Rye bread, sliced and buttered
  • Unsalted butter
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