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Cracked Crab with Butter and Citrus

Serves 4

Total Time
2 hrs 30 mins

Chef Jordan Davis of Herringbone Restaurants in Southern California grew up in San Francisco, devouring piles of Dungeness crab every Christmas Eve. He still loves his crab, and like most devotees, he prefers to cook the crustaceans live; the cooking process isn't difficult (see our how-to video on, and the resulting flavor, texture, and freshness cannot be surpassed. "It's so good, I usually just eat it straight, with a little drawn butter and lemon," says Davis. Then he uses the shells, poaching liquid, and any leftover meat to make his superlative Crab Bisque (recipe on

su-Cracked Crab with Butter and Citrus Image

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Nissa Quanstrom
 4 live medium Dungeness crabs (about 2 lbs. each) wrapped in paper by a fish shop so they're easier to handle
 1/2 cup unsalted butter
 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
 1 teaspoon lemon juice
 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  Assorted regular lemons, Meyer lemons, and limes, plus flat-leaf parsley sprigs
Step 1

Bring a canning pot filled with water to a boil, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, grasp rear of crab (claws away from you). Lower crab into pot; cover. Repeat with 1 more crab; cover. Bring water back to boiling, then cook 8 minutes for 1 1/2- to 2-lb. crabs, 10 minutes if larger. Or, in a large stockpot, boil 1 crab at a time (5 minutes for the smaller size, 8 for the larger).

Step 2

In a small saucepan, melt butter with Old Bay over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and skim foam until only clear liquid is left. Stir in lemon juice and salt.

Step 3

Using tongs, transfer crabs to a colander to drain and cool; meanwhile, cook remaining crabs. Set cooled crabs belly up on a rimmed baking sheet, then clean and crack.

Step 4

Serve on a platter with citrus, parsley, and the seasoned clarified butter.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 0

Amount Per Serving
Calories 426Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g33%

Saturated Fat 12g60%
Cholesterol 230mg77%
Sodium 1087mg46%
Total Carbohydrate 2.5g1%

Dietary Fiber 0.0g0%
Protein 51g102%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.