If you have relatives from Naples, know what I'm talking about. If not, here is the explanation. The way the word Neapolitan is slurred out is by a second generation Italian American is Nabaldedon. There ya go.
ALWAYS served as one of the many dishes on that ridiculously large menu on Christmas Eve.
The crabs cook all day, making the house redolent with the sweet smell of the sea.
We always harvested buckets of blue crabs in the summer and then froze enough to
make the winter crab sauce. Fresh crabs are available at good fish markets and
Asian markets year round, but in a pinch a cluster of snow crab will work.
There is no actual crabmeat in the sauce, though you can add some
after the long cooked crabs have been fished out at the end of cooking.
Even though the hard crabs have been cooked to death, gnawing on them
and sucking the overcooked meat out of the shells is part of the messy ritual.
Get plenty of napkins ready.
The way with the most flavor is this.
Simply sear them in hot oil in your cooking pot a few at a time,
making sure they are touching the surface of the pan.
As they get red, remove them to a bowl and sear the rest in batches.
Reserve all the juices and get them into your sauce.
NOTE: They will keep moving for a while in the pan,
but they will also give off the delicious crab fat to the pan.
(Get over it. Crabs are insects anyway.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop in the live crabs and cook for three minutes, or until they turn bright red.
Remove to a strainer and run cold water on them until they are cool enough to handle.
If your crabs are frozen you can skip this step.
Saute until shiny and soft but not brown.
Add the tomato paste and using a wooden spoon, stir it in well, allow it to fry a bit.
Stir in the white wine and mix it in well with the paste.
Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to get the wine/paste mix mixed in.
Rinse out the tomato can with 1/2 cup of water and add that too.
Puree the two cans of whole tomatoes in a blender and add those to the pot as well,
rinsing each can with a half cup of water,.
adding a little water of it gets too thick.
After a couple of hours taste the sauce.
It should be sweet and tangy and have a strong aroma of crab.
If not, cook a little longer.
and put in a serving bowl. If using the canned crabmeat, add it now and stir it in.
Top with cooked spaghetti.
Ladle on a generous amount of sauce.
Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve the crabs on the side with plenty of napkins.
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