holidays: crabs & blueberry stars 4th of July
July 4th. Independence Day. The day when all Americans celebrate their freedom. From one region of the United States to the next traditional foods are prepared with the anticipation of backyard feasting and evening fireworks. One of my favorite meals to prepare for the 4th of July is a traditional crab boil.
Growing up on the east coast of the United States and having family members who reside in Maryland the crab boil became a focal point of summer family gatherings. When our Maryland cousins visited they brought bushels of blue crabs. My family simply boiled them, set out copious amounts of melted butter atop tables layered with newspaper and, with mallets in hand, the feasting began.
Often referring to our great country as a “melting pot”, we are proud of our many cultures. What better way to celebrate the freedoms that allow us to cherish our individual cultural backgrounds as well as celebrate being Americans than to create a meal that merges many flavors into one pot while eating each portion of that meal individually, not as a stew or soup. The crab boil is, to me, the perfect Independence Day meal.
That being said, the crab boil is an amazingly easy way to feed a large crowd and allow all your guests plenty of time to sit together, eating, talking, and relaxing in the summer breeze. A crab boil can be as simple or complex as you’d like it to be. Please enjoy the following recipe as I know my family did when they sat down to eat this unexpected mid-week meal!
Happy 4th of July!
Blue Crab Boil
1 dozen medium blue crabs
2 pounds baby new potatoes
2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ dozen ears of corn¸ shucked and broken in half
Old Bay Seasoning
Emeril’s Bayou Blast Seasoning
1 stick salted butter for cooking
1 stick of melted, salted butter for dipping. (See alternative recipe for dipping sauce, below)
8 lemons cut into wedges for squeezing onto the crab meat.
Place a large crab pot, filled a little more than half way with water. Add, to taste*, the Old Bay Seasoning, Emerils Bayou Blast and the stick of butter. Bring water to a rolling boil.
Add the new potatoes and let cook for about 5-10 minutes or until soft, but not fully cooked.
When the potatoes are ready, add in the sausage, corn and crabs. A good rule of thumb is that the crabs are cooked when they turn red. Drain the pot, place all contents on a platter in the center of the table and enjoy!
*Often you need a good deal of seasoning so don’t be shy. I add about a ¼ cup of each, if not more.
An alternative to the melted butter is this delicious key lime tartar sauce that I found on “Mike’s Table”, which also offers an alternative recipe for the actual boil.
Key Lime Tartar
3 Tbsp worth of key lime juice
3 hardboiled egg yolks
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp chives
1 Tbsp parsley
ground chipotle (to taste)
ground cayenne (to taste)
In a food processor blend the egg yolks, mustard, and salt into a paste.
Add the olive oil one tablespoon at a time, which is important to keep the mixture from separating.
After the olive oil is completely blended into the mixture, add the lime juice chipotle and cayenne.
Pour into a medium bowl and fold in the capers, chives, parsley,
Who doesn’t like blueberry pie?! Blueberries are summer. Why not finish off your Independence Day feasting with a little blueberry pie. And, I mean little. Who wants to fuss with forks and plates? Why not offer your guests an alternative way to enjoy one of summer’s best desserts.
These tasty bites remind me of sea anemones or curled starfish, a perfect finishing touch to a crab boil feast. They are easy to make and, if you want to get the kids involved, here is a fun way to do it. Simple, delicious and even a tad dangerous for you’ll find that it is difficult to only eat one!
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Gradually add the butter until you have coarse dough.
Slowly add the ice water until the dough combines.
Divide the dough into two discs and refrigerate. The dough will be flakier when it is chilled.
2 cups blue berries
¼ cup sugar
½ stick butter, cut into very small pieces
While the pie dough is chilling wash the blueberries and strain. Remove any bad ones. Set in aside sugar. Cut butter and set aside. Roll out the pie dough and cut into star shapes with a cookie cutter. I used a medium sized cutter and baked these inside mini-muffin pans. Place the stars into the pan.
Place a piece of butter, a ¼ tsp of sugar and 3-5 berries in each star. Sprinkle a little more sugar on top. Fold the points of the star inwards. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden and blueberries are cooked.