Chef Melissa Martin’s Recipe for Garlic Crabs Is Ready for Summer

Garlic Crabs, Excerpted from 'Mosquito Supper Club' by Melissa Martin
Excerpted from 'Mosquito Supper Club' by Melissa MartinDenny Culbert

During the summer down in the Louisiana bayou, “It’s the norm to have cold crabs in the fridge,” according to New Orleans chef Melissa Martin.

There’s a whole section dedicated to crabs in Martin’s book, Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou. The book is named for her restaurant, which she launched as a pop-up in 2014 after a round-about path to cooking professionally. Before Hurricane Katrina, Martin was an adult literacy teacher who lost her job after the storm and resettled in the Napa Valley, where she worked in vineyards and restaurants, honing the skills she’d bring back to New Orleans three years later.

This recipe for citrusy cracked crustaceans browned in garlic butter starts with pre-cooked crabs you can buy at your local seafood place and comes together in less than 15 minutes.

“It’s a great meal to eat with people because you have to eat it slow,” Martin says. “Your hands are covered in this delicious garlic-parsley-lemon butter, so you can’t really touch your phone.”

Your hands are covered in this delicious garlic-parsley-lemon butter, so you can’t really touch your phone.

Serves 2 to 4

Leaves from 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley
12 garlic cloves, peeled
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 medium or large crabs, cooked and cut in half
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp hot sauce
3 bay leaves
½ cup canola oil
1 stick unsalted butter
Crusty bread or cooked rice, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine parsley, 6 garlic cloves, and lemon zest. Finely chop them together, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

2. Put crabs in a large bowl and season with salt, black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce. Add bay leaves.

3. Warm a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then add the oil and the remaining 6 garlic cloves. Cook until garlic becomes fragrant, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a plate; set aside.

4. Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, cook crabs until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a roasting pan.

5. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in the skillet. Return crabs to the skillet and turn them to coat evenly with butter. Transfer crabs and reserved garlic back to the roasting pan and place the pan in the oven. Roast, flipping once after 3 minutes, until crabs are golden, about 6 minutes total.

7. Remove from the oven and add remaining butter and parsley-garlic mixture to the pan. Toss until crabs are evenly coated. Season with lemon juice and serve with crusty bread or rice.

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