This recipe is sort of like polishing a diamond– you could steam up the crab legs in nothing more than tap water and you'll be completely happy. But, if you want to get just a little bit fancier you can infuse a little more flavor into the already delicious meat. Either way - yum! Also, no need to purchase a container of pickling spice to make this recipe. Just ask one of the fishmongers for a complimentary tablespoon when you're purchasing your crab legs and we will be happy to set you up. Alternately, you can also use any other 'boil' seasoning that you like - Old Bay is a favorite of many and a dash of that in the water will create a similar slight flavor enhancement.
- 2 cans beer (Olympia, of course! It's the water!)
- 1 head garlic, sliced in half on the equator
- 2 lemons, halved
- 1 T pickling spice (or other crab/shrimp boil seasoning like Old Bay)
- 1 cube butter
- 8 to 16 oz of crab legs per adult serving
Start by allowing your crab legs to thaw - the best way to do this is to thaw them in the refrigerator a day before you want to cook them, but if you just let them sit in your sink at room temperature they thaw out in about 3 hours.
One the legs are thawed you want to make it easy on yourself and your guests by pre-cutting the shell. Most recipes suggest 'kitchen scissors' for this task, but I just use a regular pair of Fiskars that I've run through the dishwasher and they work fine. Find the smooth side of the leg and cut from end to end so that you have an access point once the legs are hot. If the spines bother your hands, just hold the leg in a double layer of paper towels and remember - every rose has it's thorn! (I also recommend singing some vintage Poison while you cut up your crab, very satisfying and sure to entertain/embarrass your resident middle schooler...) Also, if your legs are long and your pot is somewhat short, give the legs a twist at the joints to break them apart so they fit better - do what's easiest!
Now that your legs are prepped - get out a big pot and pour in the beer. Add the lemons, the garlic and the spices and turn the burner up to medium high. When the beer begins to boil, add the crab legs (tips up) and do your best to get the lid on. Set your timer for 6-7 minutes and get out a cube of butter. Melt about a tablespoon of butter per serving of crab in a shallow dish in the microwave. When the timer on the crab goes off, you're done! Serve on plates with plenty of crackers and forks for picking out the meat... and a big green salad to wash all the richness down. Enjoy!