The weather has been gorgeous lately, and I really wanted to do something special with hopes of jump-starting summer since Kiddo is out of school in just a few days. This academic year has flown by, and it makes my mom heart sad that we technically only have seven summers left before our little girl heads to college.
For the longest time I’ve been tossing around the idea of throwing a proper crab boil, but simply never got around to it. However, the last few weeks I just can’t seem to keep my mind off of it. Hubs and Kiddo have never experienced a proper East Coast crab cookout, and with Memorial Day around the corner, I thought this was the perfect opportunity.
The Otherside of Summer
Plus, with Father’s Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day celebrations in the foreseeable future, it’s the ideal time to start prepping for your own backyard get-togethers and here’s how. Backyard crab cookouts is also a great idea for celebrating upcoming college and graduation parties. “June Gloom” came early this year in Southern California, so we had to move our fête inside, and it was still fantastic!
Some of my fondest memories growing up on the east coast revolve around summertime dinners where we would enjoy eating fresh Maryland crab. I can clearly remember flopping down the Sunday paper across the table outside on our deck under a canopy of trees. Loading almost the entire flat top it with crabs, corn cobs, seasoned shrimp, potatoes, and sausage. It was a warm welcome from the formal family dinners we would be subjected to.
Decorating For A Crab Cookout
Of course, you need a proper tablescape! What would a crab bake, boil, or cookout be without newspaper, wooden mallets, galvanized buckets, crab crackers, and fun serving ware? So grab a mallet and let’s get crackin’. Now we’re talkin’. This is fun! It was everyone for themselves. These dinners were not only memorable, but oh, so delicious. You have no idea until you’ve experienced one for yourself. And I recall everything feeling oddly patriotic with red, white, and blue decorations and table linens since we’d throw these seafood shenanigans sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
Can you tell I’m feeling a bit nostalgic? I’m not homesick, I just hope they love it as much as I do. That we can make this a regular summertime tradition, wouldn’t that be nice? I think they would love it just as much, and what can I say? I feel like celebrating our family. So I did my homework, and began my search for fresh seafood delivery companies and found Cameron’s Seafood. I had the most wonderful conversation with the owner, Cameron, and couldn’t for our first delicious crab feast.
What to Serve at a Crab Boil
It’s crab cookout time! Cameron suggested I try his Sampler for starters and go from there. He felt this best seller would give me a nice selection for the three of us to enjoy. And he was absolutely right. We had such a special family dinner and everything tasted amazing. The flavors were perfect, just the way I remembered, and not only were the ingredients fresh, but easy to prepare once they arrived overnight from Maryland.
The special delivery contained #1 male crabs (which are BIG and filled with lots of delicious lumps of crab meat,) crab cakes, spiced shrimp, and crab bisque soup. Wow. First, I have to say, there is something amazing about these Maryland crab cakes. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is the best crab cake recipe I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tasted many over the years. I mean we are talking beyond anything I’ve ever experienced and I make a darn good crab cake!
Soup Recipe: She-Crab Bisque
- Recipe courtesy of The Lee Bros Charleston Kitchen.
- 6 Hard-shell Maryland Blue Crabs
- 1 ½ cups of lump Maryland crab meat
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1 cup of finely chopped shallots
- 4 cups of half and half cream
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon of sherry + more for serving
- ½ cup of chopped fresh chives for serving
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and throw the crabs in the pot, two at a time. Transfer the crabs to a strainer after they’re cooked and run cold water over them. Repeat until all of the crabs are steamed.
- Once the crabs are cool enough to touch, start breaking apart the crabs one by one. If you’re wondering how to properly break apart crabs, check out our blog post! Make sure you get all of the roe and set it aside for later.
- Pour out the water, but reserve about 3 cups worth of it. Throw the crab shell, and the picked-out legs and claws into a saucepan. Boil it down by about a third and let it rest.
- Next, you’re going to start making a roux-style thickener. Put the flour into a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons of the hot broth, mixing continually until it forms a paste.
- Pour the rest of the broth into a blender, along with ¼ cup of crab roe and blend until the roe is entirely dissolved. While blending, slowly add your roux mixture to the blender.
- Start melting butter on medium/low heat in the saucepan. Add shallots, ½ tsp of salt, ¼ tsp of pepper and stir occasionally for about 4 minutes. Next, add the cream, broth and one tbsp. of sherry.
- Heat the pot to a simmer and then uncover, stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced by 15-20% or about 12 to 15 minutes have passed.
- Add crab meat and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Before serving, pour a teaspoon of sherry into each bowl and garnish with some leftover crab roe and chives.
If you’ve purchased pre-steamed crabs, bypass the first step.
Quite frankly, this dinner felt more like seafood Christmas. I didn’t know which to try first so I opted for the classic. I went for what has historically been my favorite dish, and that’s a bowl of crab bisque with huge, delicious, lump of crab meat. Soup is a favorite of mine, and between the fresh crab flavor, and the pinch of Brandy, I was one happy camper. But I knew the superstar of the meal was going to be those Maryland blue crabs so I couldn’t wait to make my way to those bad boys next.
Promotional consideration is courtesy of Cameron’s Seafood. This post contains affiliate links.