Add to that the fact that my now deceased mother in law used to love to take our boys out to Red Lobster to eat, and we’ve got a family that loves seafood. It’s funny. Ask most kids what their favorite food is, and they’ll probably say, “peanut butter and jelly”, or “Pizza”. Ask mine, and they’ll say, “Shrimp scampi!” or “Crab’s legs!”
Before that adventure with my new wife, I didn’t like crab very much. It seemed like so much work for so little meat. But over the years, my perspective has changed, and now breaking it out of the shells is just part of the fun.
So, for the last three weeks, I’ve wanted to do a steamed crab plate in my dutch ovens, but for this reason or that reason, I’ve not been able to make time to cook it. But tonight I did! I even managed to find some good frozen crab legs at a supermarket near me for only $6 a pound. Not the best, but not too bad…
Dutch Oven Steamed Crab with Shrimp and Veggie Rice
8 coals below, 16 above (in moderate weather. However, in freezing snow, like I had today: 12 coals below, 22 above, with windbreaks or a hood.)
- 2 cups rice
- 2 ¼ cups water or broth/stock (see below)
- ½ lb medium to large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2-3 lbs king crab legs, thawed
- 1 medium to large onion
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 lemon (or splashes of lemon juice)
- shakes of cilantro
- shakes of parsley
- liberal shakings of coarse ground black pepper
- liberal shakings of salt
- ½ cup butter
- 1 heaping tsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp prepared Cajun spices
- ½ tsp salt
I started by lighting up a lot of coals. I had some trouble getting them lit in the snow, but lighter fluid overcomes all!
I noticed that as the shrimp and the crabs legs had been thawing in plastic bags in my sink, the bags were filled with water from the melting ice, and it was thick with juices from the shellfish. It was like a broth, so I drained it into a measuring cup. Not quite enough came out though, only about 1 ¼ cups, so I filled the remaining space to 2 ¼ cups with water. That went in the bottom of the dutch oven with the rice. Then I peeled the shrimp (it came from the market deveined – I hate doing that…) and arranged those on top.
I sliced up the onion, the celery, and the mushrooms, and layered those in. On top of that I poured or shook on the remaining seasonings (listed in the first set). I prefer to slice lemons and layer those on top, but I had no lemons, so I used lemon juice instead.
Finally, took a heavy object (I wanted to use a meat tenderizing hammer, but could only find my rolling pin) and smacked the crab shells, to pre-crack them a bit. Then, I arranged the crab legs on top of it all. The theory was that the cooking rice would steam the crab, and the flavors would penetrate into the crab meat better if there were some cracks in the shells.
I took this out and set it on the coals. Since it was practically a blizzard, it took a long time and some extra coals to get the oven up to boiling/rice cooking temperature. But once it did, it only took about 20-25 minutes of actual cooking for the whole thing to be done.
Once I saw that the rice was, indeed, cooking and not freezing, I got out my 8” dutch oven and added all the ingredients of the second set. I put that dutch oven on top of the 12”, and added a few coals on top of it. This became the buttery dipping sauce for the crab.