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Episode 307: Extreme Smoke

Grilled King Crab with Absinthe Herb Butter

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In this recipe, grilled king crab is basted with an alcohol that was outlawed for 100 years — absinthe. Absinthe is a spirit that was once prized by French Impressionists. One of the ingredients in absinthe is wormwood, and it was made to believe that it would make a person crazy. Absinthe was outlawed for a century. However, it was recently discovered that this was not true and absinthe is now back in the market. I love its anise-y flavor, and it goes great with grilled shellfish.

The king crab is cooked right on the grill grate. King crab is usually bought already cooked, so you really just want to warm it. Orient the wider part of the crab body towards the center of the grill, which is hotter.

 

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Grilled King Crab with Absinthe Herb Butter

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Method: Indirect Grilling

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds king crab legs

For the Absinthe Herb Butter:

  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (including chives and tarragon)
  • 2 tablespoons absinthe or pastis
  • 2 lemons, cut in half widthwise

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high (400 degrees).

Step 2: Meanwhile, make the Absinthe Herb Butter: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, 2 minutes. Add the herbs and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the absinthe and cook for 1 minute. Remove the butter from the heat and let cool slightly.

Step 3: Either split the crab legs or remove a rectangle of shell from each leg to provide access to the meat. Arrange the crab legs on the grill grate, cut side up. Brush the crab with Absinthe Herb Butter. Indirect grill the crab until hot and lightly smoke flavored, 15 to 20 minutes, basting with the butter once or twice more. While you’re at it, grill the lemon halves directly over the fire until browned.

Step 4: Brush the crab once more with Absinthe Herb Butter. Serve with the lemon halves and any remaining butter in small bowls on the side for dipping.

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Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2017 Barbacoa, Inc.