CRAB BALL CHOWDER
1 lb crabmeat, picked over
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 heaping teaspoon Coleman’s dry English mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces oyster crackers, Pilot crackers, or other similar crackers, finely ground (about 1 cup)
Kosher or sea salt
Tabasco or other hot sauce
About 1 cup vegetable oil, for cooking the meatballs
24-32 oz crab(s) whole
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion (8 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1.5 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
4 cups Fish Stock
1 can (28 ounces) peeled whole tomatoes in juice, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
To make the crab balls, place the crabmeat in a mixing bowl and shred with a fork, add the eggs, milk, dry mustard, pepper, and cracker crumbs, mix well, season with salt and hot sauce to taste. Moisten your hands and roll the mixture into 1" balls, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the chowder. Makes about 36.
To cook the crabs, fill a pot with 1/2-inch water and enough salt added to make it very salty, bring to a boil, place the crab(s) top shell (carapace) down in the pot, cover, and steam for about 12 minutes for smaller crabs, about 20 minutes for a Dungeness crab, remove and allow to cool at room temperature.
When cool enough to handle, remove the crab legs, break into sections, and neatly crack the large pieces. Pick the meat from the small pieces and reserve. Remove the apron (tail flap) from the bottom of each crab and discard. Remove the top shell, scoop out and reserve the tomalley, and discard the shell. Remove the gills from the body and discard. Cut the body into quarters and trim away any extra shell or cartilage. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat a 4-6 quart heavy pot over low heat and add 1 tbsp butter, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the butter, onion, bay leaves, and the Old Bay and cook until the onion is soft but not brown. Add the potatoes and stock, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil, cover and cook until potatoes are soft outside but firm in the center. If the broth in not thickened a little, mash a few potatoes against the side of the pot and cook 2 more minutes.
Lower the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, and bring back to a simmer, adjust seasoning. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cracked crab legs, picked leg meat, tomalley, and body sections. Meanwhile, put
a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add some oil, and heat to about 350°F. Carefully but quickly add 8 to 10 crab balls to the hot oil and pan-fry, turning them as needed, until they are a rich brown color on all sides, so they look like real meatballs, remove and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining crab balls.
Ladle the chowder into warm soup plates, place 4 crab balls in each bowl and sprinkle generously with the chopped parsley. Serve the rest of the crab balls on a plate so diners can add more. Makes about 12 cups and serves 6 to 8 as a main course.