I love crab. And every time John is out of town, and the Dungeness is in season, Grace and I have our own little crab fest. See, he doesn't like the hacking and poking for little morsels of crab flesh. He'd eat it if you put a big pile in front of him but he doesn't like the work. Me and Grace - we relish getting all buttery and slippery, poking into knuckles and breaking open claws, moaning aloud and proudly showing each other an exceptional find before making it disappear. Which brings me to the birthday crab fest. John out of town, Kate not available (doesn't eat anything that swims or walks sideways.) So I went on Epicurious to see if I could crank up the crabfest by a notch and oh boy was I successful.
I bought the crab at Safeway. It is already cooked. The guy behind the counter will then clean it and crack it a little for you. This time the guy at Safeway was pretty heavy with the cracking. He didn't look upset when I gave him the order but he must of been venting at someone because our crabs were in small pieces, with not much left whole. I took them home and turned the oven to 500. I melted a stick of butter, yes a stick, get over it, this is a birthday splurge, along with some olive oil in an oven proof pan. When this was melted, I threw in two cloves of chopped garlic and let that cook just a little. I didn't want it to burn, just flavor the oil. I added all the crab and a tablespoon of flat leaf parsley and some fresh thyme from the garden, toss the whole mess to coat it and mix it and threw it in the hot oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. Tick. Tick. I couldn't wait twelve minutes, besides it is no fun to have crab that is too hot to eat! So I pulled it out after about 6 minutes. Removed it from the pan. Now this is the part of the recipe I had my doubts about. So far we had butter and herbs - wasn't that enough? This was going on perfectly good crab that would have been fine with just a fork and a lobster bib! But I decided to follow through with the recipe. I squeezed the juice of a whole navel orange into the pan along with a teaspoon full of orange zest. I let it reduce a little, stirring. I had to watch it. I didn't want all the buttery, herby, orangey goodness to reduce to nothing and disappear. I pulled it from the heat and poured it over my crab on the platter. I added some more fresh parsley. Now for the sad part. I did not take a picture of the beautiful mess and a few minutes later I was too buttery to handle a camera.
The orange in the navel added a sweetness to the butter that matched the crab. The garlic was not heavy, the herbs were a side note. We fought for every morsel, occasionally sopping the platter with bread. Soon there was a empty platter, wiped clean with bread and a bowl of crab shards. We decided we could have gone for 3 crabs with no problem. I am still smiling thinking about it this morning! This recipe gets added to Mastercook.