I grew up eating this dish on family trips to the Jersey Shore. We'd go crabbing in a small rented motor boat, using a man-made crab trap with a chicken wing attached to bait the fresh shellfish. We'd catch as many as we could and make this dish, which I consider to be a "crab gravy" thanks to the combination of crabs, tomatoes, and herbs, which create such profound flavors. Remember, it’s not sauce — it’s gravy. And this dish is incredible. The first time I cooked it, people lined up around the block for it.
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- Three 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 25 small hard-shell crabs, cleaned
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Handful of basil leaves
- 1 Pound spaghetti
Crush the San Marzano tomatoes in a bowl. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic and the crabs. Cook the crabs until they get nice and red. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add the garlic powder, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and basil. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce.