This hearty and delicious Crab Gravy (‘Sauce’) simmers for hours until thick, rich and full of flavor. It’s a perfect meal for serving a crowd and taking advantage of late summer’s abundance of fresh crabs!
Summer is quickly coming to an end. The month of August usually brings last minute summer vacations, end of season BBQs, vibrant sunsets and for many of us in the northeast—it also brings the best time for crabbing in local waters. Growing up in Philly, a quick day trip to the Jersey shore provided an ideal spot for catching fresh crabs off the Atlantic coast. While a day spent crabbing in the warm saltwater bays and inlets was always a good time, my family’s favorite part by far was the anticipation of my Mom’s famous Crab Gravy.
This hearty and delicious seafood infused gravy simmers for hours until thick, rich and full of flavor. And, yes, we call it gravy—and no it’s not brown—it’s red and tomato based. I’ve shared about the great GRAVY vs. SAUCE debate before here, if you’re
confused interested 😉
My mom would usually treat us to this messy (for those who chose to pick apart and eat the gravy filled crabs—ME!) and beloved meal once a year when someone in the family, or even a friend or neighbor, would bring home a bucket of live crabs from the shore. If you don’t have access to catching crabs nearby, you can go to your local fish market and ask for blue claw crabs—preferably male (they are meatier)—and have them cleaned and cooked. Over the past couple of years, the popularity of Mom’s Crab Gravy, along with multiple requests from family and friends, led to her preparing this crowd pleasing meal more often and she began purchasing local crabs cleaned and steamed with Old Bay seasoning. Not only is this more convenient, but it also allows for her to start the gravy a night or two before she plans on serving and creates a sweet and thick gravy that’s bursting with flavor!
I grew up eating crab gravy over spaghetti or linguine with a crab served on top along with a side of salad and fresh bread. Since transitioning to a mostly Paleo diet several years ago, I now eat my gravy over zucchini noodles or roasted spaghetti squash. Occasionally, I’ll also have a couple of slices of baguette from my favorite local gluten free bakery—Taffet’s—located in the Italian Market, since the flavor of this gravy makes you want to drink it like a fine wine! Depending on your dietary preferences, you can serve it over regular pasta or your grain or gluten free pasta/pasta substitute of choice—either way—the gravy is the star of this meal. Enjoy!
- 1 to 1 ½ dozen blue claw crabs (preferably males), cleaned and steamed*
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large vidalia onion, chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons old bay seasoning
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 (28 ounce) cans tomato puree
- 3 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
- 1 cup filtered water
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- Rinse live crabs in freshwater and then stun by placing them in ice water for 20-30 minutes. Remove the apron flap (thin tab that runs down the center) on the underside of the crab and discard. Next, remove the top shell and discard. Scrape the middle and side areas including the internal organs and spongy gills; rinsing as necessary. Use crabs immediately.
- Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and seasoning--EXCEPT for fresh basil—and sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour puree, paste and water into stockpot. Stir to combine ingredients and bring to a gentle boil.
- Add steamed crabs and fresh basil. Reduce the heat to low; cover loosely and cook for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Refrigerate overnight (for best flavor) and reheat over low heat for a couple hours or serve immediately with pasta or vegetable noodles of choice.
Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free, Paleo, Low Carb, Whole30
I hope you give this recipe a try! If you do, I’d love for you to leave a comment on this post or share a picture on Instagram with the tag #themodernbuttery. I love hearing from you and seeing your creations!
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