I haven’t a clue where it really originated. But I do know that it is only found here in Florida and is very popular with the Spanish community. When growing up we used to have a great time catching blue crabs in Tampa Bay; either using a net to scoop them up as we waded the shallow grass flats or using a string and some chicken necks, in back-country creeks to bring them close to shore and net them. My Aunt Eleanor’s recipe was the best ever but seems to have been lost after her passing. However, I got this one from my cousin Bill who besides being our family archivist is one the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
It’s great for family outings but Beware!!!! This is a very messy dish when served with crabs. We take this outside on a newspaper covered picnic tables. Then you can really dive into this wonderful meal. You’ll need nut crackers, butter knives, an old shirt and clean hands to start.
24 large cleaned blue crabs
2 pounds of fresh crabmeat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans (48 ounces) tomatoes with puree
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Tabasco/Crystal hot sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (or Zatarain’s Crab boil seasoning)
Salt & pepper to taste
2-3 pounds spaghetti, cooked and drained
Bring an extra large pot ¾’s full of water to a boil, add 3 tablespoons of Old Bay Crab Boil or Zatarain’s Crab Boil and plunge crabs into water cooking until they pink. Then place in cold water until cooled. Remove the back, and clean out the crab making certain to remove the finger looking things which are the lungs. With a mallet crack the claws. Break the body into two pieces leaving the legs attached to each half. Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a large stainless steel stock pot (not aluminum), heat olive oil, sauté onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender. Add 2 can of tomatoes with puree, add 1 can of tomato paste, and add hot sauce, sugar, bay leaves, salt/pepper, oregano, and Old Bay seasoning.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 2 hours. Cook the day before, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to serve heat the sauce and add blue crabs to sauce 30 minutes before serving time.
Serve over cooked spaghetti with lot’s of hot buttered Cuban bread.