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By The Book: Yvette Van Boven’s Crab Legs with Garlic Butter

July 23rd 12:07pm, 2013


All summer long, I’ve dreamed of flying to Maine for the weekend: walking along the beaches and eating just-caught seafood three times a day without ever putting on shoes. Since I’m running short on time – can you believe the summer is more than half over? – I figured I’d make the coast come to me. It was time to try a crustacean I’d never brought into my kitchen before: crab legs.

To be honest, I’ve never been entirely sure how to eat crab legs, much less cook them. But I figured if anyone could show me how in a clean, simple way, it was Yvette Van Boven. Her series of Home Made books celebrate seasonal eating with a beautiful, clean simplicity. Her new book, Home Made Summer, is no exception: chock-full of recipes from preserved lemons to Negroni popsicles and even grilled pork chops. Her dishes aren’t complicated or fancy. Her brilliance is in the flavors and ingredients she chooses. Most recipes in her books have at least one ingredient that will have you scratching your head and trotting around town to four different grocery stores. But hey, sometimes you need to break out of your comfort zone.

When I decided to make Van Boven’s crab legs, I was delighted to see that there weren’t many ingredients to track down at all – except crab legs! Fortunately, we have two fantastic seafood shops in town. You can find precooked crab legs at Bob’s Seafood in U. City or the Whole Foods in Brentwood on a regular basis. Even better, the fishmongers at both spots are more than happy to give you a few tips on eating them: “Break them at the bottom, take some kitchen shears and cut along the middle, then break ‘em open.” Got it.



Lucky for me, the recipe was as easy as it sounded. Once you’ve given each leg a nice little whack with a hammer (A mallet probably would’ve been better, but my regular ol’ hammer got the job done.), you just toss them in a sauce of butter, oil, garlic and fresh herbs. The buttery bath reheats the legs for a quick five minutes, and just like that – dinner. Grill some bread brushed with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and rub with garlic as soon as you take it off the heat. Eat this dish with salad and bread – that’s all.

There it is, a trip to the coast in the ease of a few minutes and no airport security. Now eating the legs, well, that was a different story. What a mess!



Crab Legs with Garlic Butter
Serves 4 (6 to 8 as a starter)

16 crab legs (You can buy these precooked at your local fishmonger.)
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ handful fresh tarragon (This is mandatory; make a detour if necessary.)
1 lemon, quartered

• Place the crab legs on a wooden cutting board and crush them somewhat using a hammer, just enough to allow the sauce to seep in and make them easier to eat.
• Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, pour in the oil and add the garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the herbs.
• Now add the crab legs; they probably won’t fit all at once, so heat them in batches, turning them in the butter to coat. (Heat the second batch while you devour the first.) Cover the pan and heat the crab legs about 5 minutes, until they’re warmed through.
• Spoon the crab legs out of the pan and transfer them to a large plate. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Reprinted with permission from Stewart Tabori & Chang

What would you eat on a summer trip to Maine? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Home Made Summer by Yvette Van Boven. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Sue, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of Fresh by Tyler Florence. Sue, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



By Stacy Schultz

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36 Responses to “By The Book: Yvette Van Boven’s Crab Legs with Garlic Butter”

  1. SwissSannetje Says:
    July 23rd, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Seafood Chowder, for sure!

  2. Pat Lang Says:
    July 25th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Lobster dripping in butter of course

  3. Pat Lang Says:
    July 25th, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Lobster of course

  4. Hao Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:35 am

    the freshest seafood around with as little seasoning as possible. so probably lobster plain or with a bit of butter or salt and pepper

  5. Tim Spencer Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Lobster roll

  6. Rebecca Bugger Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Oooey gooey lobster mac n cheese with a local Chardonnay!!

  7. Patty Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    As much fresh seafood as my body would allow!!

  8. Christa Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Lobster Rolls and Blueberry everything! Blueberry pancakes, blueberry syrup, blueberry tarts….

  9. Sara Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Lobster rolls!

  10. Mike Jones Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:40 am

    fresh lobster roll……

  11. Pam Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I will have to make these ASAP Thanks!!

  12. Jillian Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I have never enjoyed a lobster roll, I think that would be my first meal if I went to Maine.

  13. Jill Timmermann Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Lobster rolls, lobster with butter, lobster bake….pretty much lobster ;) and when in season, blueberries

  14. Dianne Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:48 am

    After the amazing lobster rolls…bring on the blueberry pie or cobbler! Absolutely LOVED visiting Maine!

  15. Rene Sackett Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Lobster Roll, mussels, clams and a Moxie to whet my whistle!

  16. Danielle Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Fresh fruit for me and soft-shell crab for the husband!

  17. Mercedes Dodd Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 11:01 am


  18. Theresa Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Lobster, lobster, lobster and crab. And I would bring as much blueberries back as possible!

  19. Ellie Hock Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 11:42 am


  20. Luke Johnson Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 11:58 am

    The catch of the day

  21. Betsy Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    lobster rolls, plural!

  22. Elizabeth Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Crab legs, lobster, clams!

  23. Lisa Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Lobster at Mabels!

  24. jenn o'donnell Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Whoopie pie from two fat cats bakery!

  25. Chris Meister Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Fresh lobster boiled in sea water. Picked fresh the same day and chilled for 1/2 an hour, at Cooks Lobster House!!!

  26. Elaine Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Lobster everything and local fare. All that the area has to offer!

  27. Patrick Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Lobsters…raised on other lobsters!


  28. Holly Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Anything seafood related….I have always wanted to go to Maine to get some incredible seafood!

  29. amanda Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    lobster, like everyone else!

  30. Joe Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Lobstah rolls!

  31. Sue Steffen Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Lobster dipped in butter, cucumber/onion/tomato cold salad, and cream-corn/jalapeno corncakes, with sweet/sour coleslaw.

  32. beth Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    everything and anything!

  33. Karen Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Lobster for me too!

  34. Trish Sharp Says:
    July 30th, 2013 at 8:01 am

    As much fresh seafood I could get my hands on.

  35. Jeane Bell Says:
    July 30th, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Lobster any way I could get it!

  36. Yasmin Says:
    July 30th, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I grew up with a family that spent two weeks every summer in Maine, so I have fond memories of fresh, summery seafood, caught and cooked all in the same day — no shipping or freezing and defrosting required! I’ll never forget the classic beauty of a clambake at dusk — I’d spend an entire morning gathering seaweed from the shores of Gouldsboro Bay and watching my mother layer it over the lobster, mussels, steamers (soft-shell clams), and corn that she’d put over the scalding hot fire my father prepared. Then my sister and I would play cards by the water to ease our anxiety as we waited to enjoy the fruits of our labor. You’ve never had seafood until you’ve enjoyed the succulence of a true New England Clam Bake (prepared over a fire, not in a pot!). What I’d give to go back to those days…

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