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Episode 312: Maryland Crab Feast

Maryland Steamed Crabs Over a Wood Fire

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Maryland Steamed Crabs Over a Wood Fire

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

For the steaming liquid:

  • 2 12-ounce cans or bottles of beer
  • 3 cups distilled white vinegar

For the spice mixture:

  • 1 cup Chesapeake seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • 1/3 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry mustard, such as Colman’s

  • 16 jumbo blue crabs, alive and kicking, preferably male
  • 4 ears corn, shucked and cut crosswise into thirds
  • 1 pound kielbasa, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 large sweet onions, peeled and quartered (leave the root ends intact)
  • 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 pound fresh okra, stems trimmed flush with the pods

You’ll also need:

  • A large lidded pot for steaming
  • a grill grate, preferably with legs
  • a brick
  • wooden crab mallets
  • paring knives
  • newspaper

Recipe Steps

1: Build a campfire and place a grate that can hold a large pot over it. (Support the grate with rocks if the grate doesn’t have legs.) Let some of the logs burn down to embers.

2: Build a layer of onions, corn, kielbasa, okra, and a head of garlic in the bottom of the pot. Top with half the crabs. Season generously with seafood seasoning, salt, black pepper, and mustard. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and season again. (Mind your fingers—the crabs may be less sanguine about the steaming process than you are.) Add the vinegar and beer. Tightly cover the pot with a lid and weight it with a brick.

3: Place the pot on the grate over the campfire and steam the crabs until they’ve turned fire engine red, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove the brick and the lid: They will be hot.

4: Transfer the crabs and other ingredients to a platter or rimmed baking sheet and place them on a table spread with newspapers or brown paper; leave the steaming liquid behind. Serve them accompanied with a wooden mallet and a paring knife. No other utensils needed. Eat them with your fingers.

Recipe Tips

Our thanks to the sponsors of Project Fire Season 3:

Project Fire Sponsors 2021

Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2021 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein

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