serves: Serves 6
This dish is especially good when made with live blue-claw crabs, but sometimes they are difficult to find. The snow crab – or its more expensive cousin, the Alaskan king crab – will yield a most delicious sauce as well. In immigrant Italian American fishing communities, such as those in Delaware and Rhode Island, this dish was made by the fishermen’s wives from the unsellable catch.
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta pot
1 pound spaghetti
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, sliced
2 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 pounds snow-crab legs, broken into pieces , ends snipped off the legs to let in the flavor
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. Slip the spaghetti into the boiling water, and cook until al dente.
Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add half of the sliced garlic. Once the garlic sizzles, add the tomatoes. Slosh out the can with 1 cup pasta water, and add that as well. Bring to a simmer, add the salt and oregano, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat. When the oil is hot, add the remaining sliced garlic. Once the garlic sizzles, add as many crab- leg pieces as will fit in the pan in one layer (you will need to do this in batches). Sauté crab legs, turning, until they turn from blue to bright red, about 3 minutes per batch. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining crab legs. Once all of the crab is sautéed, and after the sauce has cooked 10 minutes, add the crab legs to the sauce. Simmer until the crab is cooked through and the sauce is flavorful, another 10 minutes or so.
When the pasta is ready, pour about 3 cups of the sauce into a large skillet, and bring to a simmer. Transfer the drained pasta directly into the sauce in the skillet. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls, with the extra sauce and crab legs piled over the top.