Nothing screams "Baltimore" like a good ol' fashioned crab boil ... except maybe a horny little vixen who's getting it real good from a guy named Baltimore.
But we digress ...
To get right down to the tender little meat of the matter, we contacted the folks at Obrycki's Crab House, one of the iconic eateries in Baltimore's famed Lexington Market, to ask them how its done.
Like many of the best dishes out there – especially tailgate dishes – crab boils are really easy to do right. Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are not "in season" year round. But if you can't find them at your market, you can definitely order them online.
Once you get your crabs ... the tasty kind, not the ones you got from that same horny little vixen in college ... here's how to do 'em up, courtesy of the gang at Obrycki's.
Keep the crabs on ice and make certain to wet them before you season them, so that seasoning will stick better. Place about 6 cups of water, the vinegar, and the beer in an 8-gallon stockpot fitted with a raised rack. If you don't have a raised rack, use bricks wrapped in clean cloth to raise your rack about 6 inches off the bottom. It is important that the crabs not get wet while they're being steamed. (Crabs can also be boiled directly in water that's been salted and/or loaded up with plenty of seasoning.)
Make a layer of crabs on the rack, and cover them with a thick layer of crab seasoning. Bring the liquid to a boil. Once the steam starts to rise through the crabs, cover pot with lid, and steam for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crabs are bright red.
While the crabs are steaming, spread out a bunch of newspaper on your table. When crabs are done, dump them across the table. Once they cool, dive in. Serves about 6.
Picking a crab
It takes a bit of skill and patience to properly pick a crab. The folks at Old Bay have a nifty video to help you do it.
Other boil options
By the way, other crab boils are done much like a New England seafood boil, with sausage and corn and potatoes. But this is the way they do it at Obrycki's, and that's good enough for us.
More crab info
By the way, if you're interested in the topic of Chesepeake Bay crabs, you should check out the book "Beautiful Swimmers" by William Warner, which won a Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 1977; it's an amazing story about the crabs, crabbers and the Bay itself.
CHFF pal Big Wally, New Jersey attorney by day, striped bass assassin on nights and weekends, lent Kerry the book once and he's never returned it ... it's that good.