Sam’s Stone Crabs

Who doesn’t like a good Surf ‘n’ Turf?  Now, let me ask you this… who doesn’t love a good Surf ‘n’ Turf when someone else is buyin’?!  Last weekend, my Dad welcomed us home from LA with a feast fit for kings.  All by himself, he cooked my family stone crab claws, hash brown potatoes, and filet. To understand and appreciate how special this is, let me tell you a few things:

1.  My Dad is rarely in the kitchen.  I learned my stuff from my Mom, Ellen, who can throw anything into a pan and turn it into a fabulous weeknight dinner.  I would say for the past eight years, most of our family dinners have been made by my Momma and I.  We have a lot of fun in that kitchen!!  You can usually find my Dad waiting upstairs, watching Law & Order.

I will give him credit though; he has always made a MEAN Grilled Cheese, perfect French Toast & the best Bacon you’ll ever try.

2.  The crab holds an important place in my life.  First of all, I am a crab!  I don’t just mean I’m cranky… I mean I was born on June 23rd and my horoscope is Cancer the crab!  The descriptions of Cancer are always DEAD on… moody, emotional, sensitive, nurturing, bossy but kind, and unpredictable.  Weird.  As I was finding something to link you to, this article even mentions that people born under the sign Cancer love food.  WEIRD!

Going to “crabs” is also one of my favorite meals of the year.  Years and years ago, my family and our family friends discovered a little hole in the wall crab shack in Chesapeake City, MD, called “The Tap Room”.  The tablecloth is brown paper bag material.  You literally squirt your ketchup for your Old Bay Fries directly onto the table.  We order Onion Rings, Maryland Crab Soup, Corn on the Cob (plus Old Bay), and of course dozens of Hard-Shell Crabs.  At least once a year, we make the hour-long drive on 95S to the Tap Room to have dinner together.  Now that all of us “kids” are grown up or in college, seeing each other and feasting on the deliciously seasoned hard-shell crabs is always something I look forward to.

3.  December 16th is a very unusual kind of night for my family to be having a big fancy dinner together.  I have not yet mentioned what my Mom does for a living… It’s Good to be the Cook’s Mom is a CHOCOLATIER!  She owns the best homemade chocolate shop ever… As Sweet As Can Be.  If you’re wondering why we aren’t all 500 pounds… that is one hell of a good question!  We dip everything and anything in chocolate and it is DELICIOUS!

Anyways, my Mom’s busy season usually takes her a few weeks before Thanksgiving all the way until Christmas Day.  She does a ton of business from corporate gifts, so the holidays are her crazy time.  Her and her dedicated elves spend all day everyday in the store.  It is rare that we will see Mom at home beforemidnight, let alone for a big family dinner.

SO, now that you know all of these things, you can better understand how surprised I was when my Dad called to tell Dave and I that he was making us all dinner!  I don’t know how he did it but he convinced my Mom and sister, Mellie to come home and eat with us.  I’m so glad he did!

Dad was given a holiday gift from Omaha Steaks which included SIX Filet Mignons.  All by himself, he defrosted the steaks and made a simple marinade for them.  While they were soaking in the marinade, he started on his potatoes.  He sliced them thin like potato chips and put them in a huge frying pan with some oil, garlic, paprika, and other seasonings.  The paprika gave the potatoes and the oil a great golden color.

I've never had homemade hash brown potatoes so good before!!

Inspired by their recent visit to the Miami Joe’s Stone Crabs, Dad went out to Wegmans and bought 20 Stone Crab Claws.  Stone Crab Claws are VERY different from King Crab Claws, Hard-Shells, and well, every other type of crab I’ve ever tried!

The Stone Crabs are actually from Florida and can only be legally harvested from October 15th-May 15th.  Their short season and the fact that the body of the crab itself is never really eaten makes these babies considered a delicacy!  I actually also learned that in most cases, the heavy claws are removed and the crabs are placed back into the ocean where they can live on and grow new claws.  (a renewable resource… I like the sound of that!)

My dad figured that he should also try to recreate the famous Joe’s Stone Crabs Mustard Sauce that is served aside the claws at Joe’s Stone Crabs.  He even let me help him make this one.

Sam’s Stone Crab Sauce (adapted from Joe’s Stone Crab Mustard Sauce)

3 Tablespoons Nance’s Sharp & Creamy Mustard

1 Cup Olive Oil Mayo

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon A-1 Sauce

1 teaspoon fresh Lemon Juice

¼ Cup Heavy Cream

Salt & Pepper to taste

First, I squeezed the mustard into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  With a whisk, I mixed in the Mayo, Worcestershire Sauce, A-1, and Lemon Juice.  I added some salt and pepper and continued to whisk it all together.  I slowly mixed in the Heavy Cream, which you can continue to add and whisk if you would like the sauce to be thicker (and if you don’t mind the extra fat content!!).  The sauce will become a little bit thicker as you whisk.  I recommend just tasting the sauce a few times and adding whatever you think it needs.

Dad broiled the steaks, finished the potatoes, and chilled the crab claws over a big bowl of ice.  Dinner was ready!  We were all so excited for our gourmet dinner in our pajamas, that none of us stopped to think this situation through:  The claws are opened by smashing them with a wooden mallet.  Our kitchen table is made of glass.  Woops!!  We didn’t break anything, but the noise from smashing the mallets in our plates over the glass was enough to scare my little puppy Stella who spent the entire meal underneath the table shaking!  With Stelly shaking and pieces of shells flying, we enjoyed our fabulous dinner and our time together.  We even had a few belly-laugh moments, one of which being when my Dad dropped his bowl of Crab Sauce onto of Stelly’s back.

The Claws are served chilled, unlike the hard-shells we eat in Maryland!

This picture doesn't even do this amazing mustard sauce justice!!

It was such a treat for my Dad to work his ass off and cook us dinner, especially for my Mom who definitely needed the break!  If only we got to eat like this more often!!

Thanks, Dad!