Saturday, May 22, 2021

Smoked King Crab Legs


I am adding this recipe to my blog with mixed emotions. The first emotion is disappointment insomuch that it took me 68 years to figure out the very best way to cook Alaskan King Crab Legs. The second emotion is elation for having discovered the very best way to cook Alaskan King Crab Legs. It is absolutely astounding what a little bit of smoke does to the delicate sweetness of king crab meat.

Costco is by far the cheapest place to buy king crab legs. They typically run from $24.99 to $29.99 a pound. That's a bargain compared to the $43.99 I had to pay at Lunds last weekend. King crab is easy to prepare. It is cooked and flash-frozen right when it is harvested, so all you have to do is thaw it and reheat it.

To prepare it for smoking, you want to cut away half of the shell. Importantly, you want to cut away and discard the white part of the shell. The darker part of the shell will impart more flavor as the crab is cooked. And exposing the meat in the shell will allow it to absorb more smoke. The picture below shows what your crab leg should look like before cooking.

I like to use my Weber Deluxe Grilling Pan to hold my crab legs (see below). That way I can place all of the legs on the pan in the prep area and simply set the whole pan on the smoker, thereby avoiding the hassle of managing individual crab legs on the grill. While having a pellet smoker makes this recipe a breeze, you can easily smoke crab legs on any grill with two-zone cooking and a foil pouch filled with mesquite. And the grilling pan works equally well regardless what kind of grill you are using.

When buying king crab legs, try and get the biggest legs you can. Larger legs have a greater meat to shell ratio, making them a better buy. The rule of thumb for buying crab legs is one pound per person. A large leg with a knuckle typically weighs about a pound. A thinner leg with no knuckle will typically clock in at ten ounces. And don't cut corners on the butter. I like dipping my crab meat in a rich, European style butter. Kerrygold is my absolute favorite. The recipe below serves four. I like to serve my crab with rice pilaf...they go great together.

 4 pounds Alaskan King Crab Legs
16 ounces of melted butter
Old Bay Seasoning

  1. Preheat smoker to 350ยบ.
  2. Break each crab leg into individual pieces by snapping the leg at every joint . Cut away white portion of shell from each piece and discard.
  3. Place leg pieces on grilling pan, flesh side up. Take about 6 ounces of the melted butter and brush the meat of each piece generously. Then lightly dust each piece with a little bit of Old Bay Seasoning.
  4. Place legs in smoker. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove crab pieces from smoker and serve with small, individual bowls of the drawn butter.

Wine pairing: A big, oaky Napa Chardonnay

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

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