Crab gravy, crab sauce, crabs and spaghetti, crabs and macaroni…..no matter what you call it, we can all agree, it’s delicious.
I had a craving to make this today and my wonderful husband happily went to the market this morning to find me crabs. I was so happy he came home with them because we don’t have a seafood place close by so we had to hope the Italian market had them in today.
This isn’t something I make often. In fact, this is only the second time in my 25 years of cooking that I have. It’s probably more like 30 years, but who’s counting. I figured I’d make it like I make my meat sauce, so it was a kind of make-it-up-as-I-go type of recipe. I will try to be as accurate as possible with the ingredients and process.
Here we go.
- 6 blue crabs, uncooked
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
- olive oil
- red pepper flakes
- 1 8oz can of tomato paste
- white wine
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes
- fresh basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb of spaghetti or long pasta of your choice
In a large, heavy pot, heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil and add 3 cloves of minced garlic and, if you wish, some red pepper flakes. We like it spicy. Get that going a bit and be careful to not burn the garlic. Once fragrant, add about half of the crabs until they turn red, flip and cook until red on the other side. Season with some salt while they cook. Remove from the pot and add the remainder. When they are cooked, remove and set aside Do not let anyone eat them! They WILL try.
If your garlic burned, like mine did, toss it. Burnt garlic will ruin your sauce. Begin with some fresh oil and heat it up. Add your chopped onion, the remaining minced garlic, more red pepper flakes and begin to saute until soft. Add some salt while you saute. I like to salt every layer of my dishes because salt makes everything better. Once soft, add the can of tomato paste and mix in.
Add about 1/4 cup of the wine to the tomato paste and stir well. Cook down for about 5 minutes.
To the tomato paste mixture, carefully pour in the two cans of crushed tomatoes. You will want to add some water to thin it out so fill each can about a quarter of the way full, stir to combine leftover tomatoes and pour into the pot. Add about another 1/4 cup of wine, season with salt and black pepper and add the basil. Stir and bring to a boil for about three minutes. Lower heat to simmering and carefully return the cooked crabs to the pot. Cover, lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring frequently, for about two hours. If you notice the sauce is becoming too thick, add more water and fully cover with the lid until it thins out a bit. You don’t want it like ketchup but you don’t want it like soup either.
When the gravy/sauce is almost done cooking, you will want to cook your pasta according to package directions. Do not forget to salt your pasta water! There is nothing worse than unsalted, bland pasta to ruin all of your efforts. 🙂
Remove crabs from the pot and put on a plate. Drain pasta and place into a bowl and cover generously, or not so generously, with the sauce.
Serve, add some grated Locatelli cheese if you want…who cares what anyone says, and enjoy!
This is one of my daughter’s favorite meals. “Mom. Are we having clams and spaghetti tonight?” I hear it all the time. She really does love it and ate A LOT of it in Italy. And man, was it good there. Something about their incredible olive oil. Totally changes the taste of the entire dish. So, always buy the best olive oil you can afford. It is worth it.
You can take this up a notch and use fresh clams of course. I do prefer the minced clams though. I’m not a big fan of large clams, and it’s just so much easier. Again, buy a good quality canned clam and juice.
- 1 pound of spaghetti or linguine
- 2 jars of Cento clam juice
- 1 can of Cento minced clams, with their juice
- 1/4 cup of white wine (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced fine
- 1 teaspoon, or to taste, of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of minced, dried parsley
- pinch of salt plus more to salt the water for cooking the pasta
- a few grindings of black pepper
Fill a large pot with water. Turn heat to high. When reaches boiling point, salt liberally and add pasta. Cook to al dente.
While you’re waiting for the water to boil and pasta to cook, get a small saucepan and heat the olive oil and butter.
Add the garlic, red pepper and parsley. Cook to light golden. Do not burn the garlic. I cannot stress that enough. It will ruin the dish.
Lower the heat, add the clams with their juice, the clam juice, and wine. Turn heat up a bit to bring to a constant simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Once pasta is done, drain and place in a serving bowl. Pour clam sauce over top and serve immediately.