Snow Crab Leg Clusters in Garlic Butter

Snow Crab. While not as meaty as our favorite, the King Crab, Snow Crab is sweeter and less expensive. I adore the added garlic-butter flavor that seeps into the meat during the warming process. Unless you live in a coastal town, or get your crab from a large fish tank, all crabs are cooked when they’re caught then quickly flash frozen for transport. You’re basically just heating them up, whether that be with steam, on a grill or in a large pan with lots of butter. Once killed, crab has a very short shelf life and can be dangerous to consume.

I prefer getting my crab from bags of the frozen variety. I’d rather not feel responsible for “killing” a fresh crab in a tank or having someone else end the life of a crab simply because I’ve requested it. Besides, the flash-frozen clusters are much easier to cook up. It’s just a matter of thawing in the refrigerator for several days before implementing the cooking method of choice.

This recipe is intended to feed four adults. Served with a nice Baked Potato with the Works and Seared Asparagus and you’ve got the makings for a perfect meal. Be sure to provide the necessary tools needed to crack open the legs and extract the meat as well as a large platter in the center of the table to hold the empty shells. If using, place warm Clarified or Drawn Lemon Butter into individual tins or small ramekins for serving.

What is the difference between Clarified Butter and Drawn Butter? Both have undergone the removal of milk solids and water. However; Clarified Butter is pure butterfat, while drawn butter is not nearly as pure. The milk solids of drawn butter have been skimmed off the top, while clarified butter has been strained. The water of drawn butter has been allowed to separate from the butterfat and is drained off while the water of clarified butter has been cooked to the point of evaporation. Drawn butter requires less cooking time, and retains at least some of the milk solids, giving it that butter flavor we all know. Clarified Butter, pure butterfat, while still possessing butter flavor, lacks some of that “creamy” sensation we associate with butter.

Drawn Lemon Butter
1 lb Unsalted butter
2 Lemons, Zested

Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler over just-barely simmering water, 5 to 7 minutes.

Set the melted butter aside to cool slightly, then skim off and discard the foam that has collected at the top.

Select a heat-proof bowl large enough to hold the remaining melted butter. Zest of two lemons into the bottom of the bowl. Pour melted butter over the zest.

Allow the butter to solidify overnight. Drain off any liquid that collects at the bottom.

Melt the solidified butter in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl, and pour into individual tins or small ramekins before serving.


Clarified Butter
1 1/2 lbs Unsalted Butter

Cut the butter into 1″ pieces. Place the butter in a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has liquefied, decrease the heat to lowest setting then gradually adjust upward as needed to maintain a low boil.

Cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the butter reaches 260 degrees, is clear, and the foam on top is slightly browned. (The browning will add depth to the finished butterfat). The long cooking process will ensure that the water content of the butter has evaporated, leaving only the milk solids (browning at the top) and pure butter oil (below) to contend with.

While many recipes for Clarified Butter tell you to use a ladle to skim the milk solids from the butterfat, this takes time and more patients that most of us possess. An easier technique is to strain the remains of the saucepan through four layers of cheesecloth set over a hand strainer above a heat-proof vessel.

Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Place Clarified Butter into the refrigerator until ready to use.

Over low heat, melt desired amount of Clarified Butter and pour into individual tins or small ramekins for serving.


Snow Crab Leg Clusters in Garlic Butter
4 pound Snow Crab clusters, thawed
4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
4 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 Cup Unsalted Butter, divided (4 sticks)
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh-Ground Black Pepper to taste
Clarified Butter or Drawn Lemon Butter for dipping, if desired (above)

With a sharp, thin knife cut a slit in each crab leg. Set aside.

Mince garlic cloves, keeping each clove separate to use in batches.

Chop parsley, keeping each teaspoon separate to use in batches

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt one stick of butter. Once melted, add half of the garlic (two clove) to the butter until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Sprinkle garlic butter with 1 teaspoon parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Continue to heat seasoned butter mixture until foamy and bubbling, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Add half of crab leg clusters to pan; toss to coat in garlic butter. Allow cluster to simmer until heated through, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Place cluster on a large serving platter; drizzle well with pan liquids. Place platter into a warm oven to hold.

Repeat with remaining butter, garlic, parsley, leg cluster and seasonings.

Add to serving platter, drizzle with garlic-butter.

Serve and enjoy.

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