A boil-up of tender Dungeness crab legs, baby potatoes, and juicy corn on the cob is the ultimate shared dining experience—especially if you’re cooking it in a great big pot of seawater over a beach campfire. What sets this one apart is the savory-sweet stone-fruit butter that gets tossed in right before serving. This butter is delicious on just about any barbecued seafood, or even grilled tofu or seasonal vegetables, giving each bite the sweet taste of summer.
Stone fruit butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh stone fruit such as peaches, apricots, or plums
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp roasted garlic (see Note)
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
1 tsp sea salt
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or food processor and mix or process until well blended. Scrape the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap, and then shape and roll it into a 2-inch-thick log. Refrigerate until needed. (Can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.)
2 (2 to 3 lb) live Dungeness crabs
2 lb baby yellow or red potatoes, unpeeled
6 ears of fresh corn, halved crosswise
1/2 peach, apricot, or plum, sliced
1/4 cup Stone Fruit Butter (see above)
Crusty bread or Kelp and Smoked Sea Salt Scones to serve
Green salad, to serve
Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Salt generously (it should taste like seawater). Carefully place the crabs head first into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, cook for 15 minutes (or 20 minutes for 3-pound crabs). Remove crabs with tongs and plunge in ice-cold water until cool enough to handle. Keep the pot of water warm.
To clean the crabs, pull off the shell from the back. Discard any liquid (you can scoop out and save the golden “crab butter” to serve with the crab). Pull off the gills, which look like pods that are barely attached at the sides of the crab. Use your hands to break off the mouth parts. Turn the crab over and pull off the triangular “apron.”
Bring the water back to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Add the corn and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the platter with the potatoes.
Return the crab to the water just to heat through, about 3 minutes. Drain and cut each crab into quarters. Return the corn and potatoes to the empty (but still warm) pot, add the peach (or apricot or plum) slices and stone fruit butter. Toss the pot or gently stir, allowing the butter to melt and coat everything.
Arrange the crab, corn, and potatoes on the serving platter. Add some more dollops of butter. Provide mallets, crab picks, and bowls for the shells. Serve with crusty bread or kelp scones, a salad, and your favorite ice-cold craft beer.
Chef’s notes: To roast garlic, slice the top third off of a head of garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil, and roast at 400°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until soft.
Chill the live crabs in the freezer for 15 minutes before cooking—it slows them down and makes them easier to get into the water.