Maryland Crab Feast Gets Crackin’ in New York City

New Yorkers get their mallets ready for the all-you-can-eat feast
The Unique Maryland Crab

Joshua Morgan of Hammer and Claws explains what makes a Maryland crab so special

 
 

Some 40,000 Maryland Blue Crabs will be steamed, cracked, and served at the Hammer & Claws feast in New York City.

Hammer & Claws, an all-you-can-eat Maryland crab feast, returns Sept. 7 to 9 to New York City. Some 40,000 Maryland blue crabs will be steamed and served at the second annual festival at the Tunnel Space at Terminal Stores.

Maryland native Josh Morgan is steaming the 40,000 Maryland blue crabs with 1,750 pounds of Old Bay that will be cracked with 5,000 mallets, and served to approximately 4,000 patrons during the three-day festival.

“Crab feasts are primitive, cathartic and communal. Hammering away with your mallet to get the perfect claw or laboring to get that massive piece of jumbo lump makes the crab feast unique. And it makes it fun. They really are one of the best dining experiences available," said Morgan.

In addition to the all-you-can eat crabs and all-you-can-drink Abita Light, Purple Haze, Amber Ale, and Abita Root Beer, traditional sides such as coleslaw, potatoes, and corn on the cob are also served Friday night from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday noon to 3 p.m.

"Hammer & Claws is the first, truly authentic Maryland crab feast in New York. A lot of people serve blue crabs, but not in a format that's exactly how it's done in Maryland,” said Morgan, who notes that a crab festival’s authenticity can be discovered by the crab cooking method.

“Blue crabs are always steamed, never boiled. Many restaurants refer to crab feasts as crab boils, which is usually a sign that it's not an authentic Maryland Feast,” Morgan says festival-goers at an authentic Maryland crab fest like his will only find male crabs, also called jimmies, at a true Maryland crab feast.

This year’s Maryland crab season has been a very good one notes Morgan. All of the blue crabs served at Hammer & Claws come directly from the Chesapeake Bay and are caught the week of and then stored at the right temperature to stay alive.

Hammer & Claws works with Shoreline Seafood of Maryland to bring the crabs in large, custom built crab trailers, specifically designed to steam crabs. High-powered boilers pump steam into large metal vats that can cook approximately 500 crabs in 20 minutes.

VIDEO: The Best Way to Crack Your Crab

“With multiple trailers at work at once, each with five or six steam lines, we can cook a very large amount of crabs at one time,” said Morgan. “As is typical of a crab feast, the guests all come at once, and we will have thousands of steaming hot, old-bay covered crabs waiting to be picked.”

Tickets are $89 for adults and $45 for children ages six to 12; children under six are free. A portion of the proceeds from the Hammer & Claws Blue Crab Feast will be donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which works to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.